New CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery David Zaslav took up his position with the company after the merger with $3 billion in debt take care of. Zaslav’s strategy is to push the cheap, unscripted reality TV that generated Discovery sufficient income on more expensive scripted content.
Who was the first to go on the chopping block? Animation.
Just good deals?
Shows as “infinite train” and “summer camp island“were pulled from HBO Max with little recognition given to their creators. A new season of “Mao Mao” had barely been completed before it was also deleted, meaning that these newly completed episodes will never be seen.
Hollywood is a business, and all businesses make decisions that will benefit them financially first. By removing these shows, Warner Bros. Discovery can classify them as tax deductions and not have to pay the creators or any of the people who worked there any residuals.
Live-action projects such as the $90 million”bat girlThe film was also unceremoniously cut for the same reasons, but the fact that the majority of the scrapped projects were animated speaks to a larger issue regarding how animation is perceived by the entertainment industry.
“If you ask the majority of people who live in Hollywood and whose livelihood comes from the more than 1,000 live-action Hollywood releases every year, they consider animation to be secondary,” said the film professor from the University of Utah and former animator of Walt Disney Feature Animation. Craig Caldwell said in an email interview. “This perception is influenced by animation’s past reputation as something just for kids.” Animation being considered secondary to live content is sadly nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable.
The human cost
In a newsletter shared on his personal blog, “infinite train” creator Owen Denis said, “What’s the point of doing something, spending years working on it, spending nights and weekends doing their terrible grades, losing sleep and not seeing our families, if it’s just going to be taken away and shot in the backyard? ”
“The Hollywood system has been heartless from the start. It will continue to do so because there are so many people who want to work in the industry,” Caldwell said. “When you come across a situation like this, all you can do is learn from it and use that information for the next production you’re working on so it doesn’t happen to you too often.”
Animators work hundreds of hours with very tight schedules and bossy executives looking over their shoulders, knowing that their hard work could be thrown in the trash at any moment. What Zaslav did made this sad reality depressingly clear.
“Animation projects take so much effort that it sometimes hurts my head to think about it,” Caldwell said.
Economists believe that Warner Bros. Discovery potentially lost $20 billion in their effort to save $3 billion after attacking their own content garden with a bushwhacker. Still, only time will tell if Zaslav’s game will pay off.
As if they never existed
Today, there is no way to watch or support any of the anime shows that have been removed. All traces of them have been erased from official social media accounts as if they never existed in the first place,
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Many of these showrunners, writers, voice actors, and animators will continue to work on other projects — projects that will hopefully find success on a platform more sensitive to their value.