HBO Max Is Cutting A Ton Of Your Favorite Shows In Order To Save Money, But Not How You Might Guess

HBO Max logo
(Image credit: HBO Max)

The Warner Bros. Discovery merger has been causing a lot of upheaval lately, especially for HBO Max subscribers who have been looking forward to either some specific brand new content or new seasons of series they already love. With several shows and movies being canceled in just the past several weeks, and some exclusive films also being removed from the streamer, HBO Max is now cutting some favorite shows to save cash, but in an unexpected way.

What’s Being Cut From HBO Max?

As noted above, HBO Max is now caught up in a number of cost-saving measures as the Warner Bros. Discovery merger takes effect. WBD angered many when it announced that Batgirl was canceled, even though it was already deep into the post-production process, and several titles have already been removed from the streaming service. A new report from Variety notes that even more TV shows/movies are set to be taken down as early as this week, with a whopping 36 titles on this particular chopping block. And, among those are an unnamed “select group of Sesame Street specials” and 20 HBO Max Originals:

  • 12 Dates of Christmas
  • About Last Night
  • Aquaman: King of Atlantis
  • Close Enough
  • Ellen’s Next Great Designer
  • Esme & Roy
  • The Fungies!
  • Generation Hustle
  • Generation
  • Infinity Train
  • Little Ellen
  • My Mom, Your Dad
  • Odo
  • Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness
  • Summer Camp Island
  • The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo
  • The Runaway Bunny
  • Theodosia
  • Tig n’ Seek
  • Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs

We heard a few days ago that Little Ellen was going to be canceled, despite production on the third season already being completed, with it being alleged that WBD decided to use it as a tax write-off so it could save some money, but now another Ellen DeGeneres series, Ellen’s Next Great Designer, has been been axed, as well. As with several of the shows listed above, Little Ellen was animated, and at least one of the people behind this new spate of canceled shows has spoken out about the move, with Summer Camp Island creator Julia Pott taking to Twitter and saying:

We worked for 5 years to make 100 episodes of animation. We worked late into the night, we let ourselves go, we were a family of hard working artists who wanted to make something beautiful, and HBO MAX just pulled them all like we were nothing. Animation is not nothing!

Other titles that have been cut include the HBO original film My Dinner with Hervé, Cartoon Network’s Uncle Gandpa, and the acquired title, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures.

Why Is This HBO Max Cost-Cutting Different From Standard Cancellations?

If you’ve been a TV fan for a long time, even without understanding the sometimes intricate inner workings of the business behind your favorite shows, you probably get at least one thing: producing most TV series costs a lot of money, so if a show gets canceled that money can be saved by the company. So, it makes total sense to start cutting shows on HBO Max to save money. 

However, as mentioned before, WBD is cutting already produced new seasons/whole movies (meaning the money has already been spent). The Variety article notes that it’s not just that we won’t see new seasons, but these shows are going to actually be removed from HBO Max, so that WBD no longer has to pay residuals to the many performers who appeared in or lent their voices to the titles being taken down. So, those two seasons of Little Ellen that had been just sitting on HBO Max for you to enjoy at your leisure? They will soon disappear so that WBD doesn’t have to continue to pay the voice actors.

For those who are unaware, residuals are what actors get paid after their initial compensation for a series, so that they can continue to be paid for their work as people watch the show after that first airing. Streaming, in general, has changed the game when it comes to residual pay, because instead of complex deals for shows to go into syndication on specific channels at specific times, shows are just available all the time and (generally) in perpetuity. 

In the summer of 2020, the actors union and studios agreed to increase residuals for streaming content and make it easier for actors in streaming shows to benefit from the new terms, but those benefits only apply if the series is still available on a streaming service. If it’s taken down, actors get no more residuals for their work, hence all of the HBO Max cuts.

No exact date or time has been announced for when any of this content will be removed from HBO Max, so if you need to get another viewing of any of them in, it’s best to do it now.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.