If freshly established Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav was hoping to make a splash in his new job this week, he certainly succeeded: The company’s streaming service, HBO Max, is currently on people’s lips all across the internet, as various folks make exclamations like “Oh, wow, HBO Max is going straight into the shitter!” or ask questions like “Why is HBO Max going straight into the shitter?” That’s buzz, baby!
After drawing ire for a whole bunch of decisions related to the streaming service this week—including plans to shelve two nearly completed movies (Batgirl and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt) and the quiet removal of plenty of originals from the HBO Max roster—Zaslav got a chance to justify his actions during the newly merged company’s Q2 earnings call today. His comments were heavy on ambitious planning, light on respect for the various artists who make the actual content his company profits so aggressively off of, and whose work has now been relegated to, basically, a line on an entertainment supergiant’s tax filings.
As noted by Variety, Zaslav repeatedly returned to the word “quality” as a justification for the cuts; he never outright said Batgirl, which would have introduced Leslie Grace as the character, and formally returned Michael Keaton to the Bat-fold, wasn’t said “quality,” but he did state that “We’re not going to launch a movie to make a quarter, and we’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it.”
Of course, it does seem a little coincidental that the movies that David Zaslav doesn’t “believe in” just happen to be the same films lined up by his immediate predecessor, Jason Kilar, as part of the company’s bold movies-direct-to-streaming-plan. In contrast, Zaslav totally for sure no foolin’ believes in the upcoming theatrical The Flash film (also co-starring Keaton), despite the fact that star Ezra Miller has taken the unorthodox step of issuing most of the film’s recent press missives in the form of lurid police reports and legal filings. Zaslav assured all present that he was “excited” for the film, before becoming, like, the thousandth consecutive Warner Media exec to promise that the company is finally going to figure out how to effectively rip off the Marvel formula so that they can also milk several billion dollars out of their own superhero brands.