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Warner Bros. Discovery's shocking decision to cancel two original film projects slated for exclusive premieres on HBO Max — Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt — rocked the streaming world earlier this week. Now that the dust has begun to settle a bit, Hollywood can't help but make a few jokes at the expense of a corporate move that's being heavily criticized for prioritizing the bottom line over the hard work and dedication of cinematic storytellers.
Never one to back away from ripe social commentary, The Boys poked fun at the news by way of its Vought International Twitter account with a not-so-subtle jab at Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav's plan to merge HBO Max and Discovery+ into one platform by next summer. The tweet informs fans that three of the fictional corporation's streaming services — VTV+, VNN+ and VSN+ — would be combined into one giant platform called Vought++. "It’s plus-plus, for only an additional $29.99 per month," reads the caption. "Rewatch Dawn of the Seven with the guys, dive in to Property Flippers with the gals, plus more!"
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Simu Liu got in on the fun as well, tweeting that "Disney has decided to scrap the Shang-Chi Holiday Special due to quality control concerns. I had already filmed the entire thing. I even designed an all-gingerbread Ta Lo. RIP Shang Chi and the Legend of the TEEEN GOLDEN RIIIIINGS.
While Liu definitely had his tongue firmly in cheek, a festive MCU event is actually coming to Disney+ this December via James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Liu will reprise the character of Shang-Chi in an upcoming sequel from writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton.
In addition to shelving Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt for tax write-off purposes, HBO Max has also removed a number of its own original titles like Moonshot, Superintelligence, Seth Rogen's An American Pickle, and Robert Zemeckis' remake of The Witches.
“This idea of expensive films going direct to streaming — we can’t find an economic case for it, we can’t find an economic value to it, so we’re making a strategic shift,” Zaslav remarked during an earnings call this week (as reported by Variety). “We will fully embrace theatrical as we believe that creates interest and demand, provides a great marketing tailwind, and generates word-of-mouth buzz as films transition to streaming and beyond. We have a different view on the wisdom of releasing direct streaming films, and we have taken some aggressive steps to course correct the previous strategy.”
Looking for some sci-fi TV? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock. Looking ahead, SYFY has new series The Ark in the works from original Stargate film writer/producer Dean Devlin, as well as Stargate SG-1 producer Jonathan Glassner.