Poker Face's Rian Johnson Shares Strong Thoughts On TV Shows And Movies Being Canceled And Pulled From Streaming Services

Rian Johnson in Poker Face interview for Peacock
(Image credit: Peacock)

As much as the world of streaming platforms may sound like a safe haven for cord-cutters, who now reportedly outnumber cable and satellite customers, recent months have pointed to two large, growing issues that have become commonplace across the board: movies and TV shows being completely shelved despite some of all of the filming process being completed. Filmmaker Rian Johnson, whose first streaming TV venture Poker Face has totally won over viewers and critics alike, recently shared his take on the growing trend, and he’s certainly not a fan. 

With Poker Face nearing the end of its ten-episode first season — available to stream with a Peacock subscription — viewers almost definitely don’t need to worry about Natasha Lyonne’s Charlie Cale facing a sudden and seemingly unwarranted exit from the platform. But considering WB’s two shelved Scooby-Doo animated features, HBO Max excising fare such as Westworld and Raised By Wolves, and Netflix shopping off the fully complete films The Inheritance and House/Wife, it’s becoming impossible to know for sure which shows and movies should be considered permanent fixtures. Speaking to THR, Rian Johnson shared his damning thoughts:

It’s been horrifying. The fact that it’s becoming common practice is terrible and adds to the awfulness. In the history of the business, there has been a constant evolution of horrible things.

To Johnson’s point, somewhat, it was already a disturbing move whenever HBO Max kicked off this unfortunate trend by axing the DC feature Batgirl while it was in the midst of post-production, as well as by jettisoning all kinds of original fare off. (With some of it landing at Tubi, and some presumably being held for WBD’s own FAST streaming platform.) But then things became all the more baffling and potentially damaging once other streaming platforms became inspired by such moves and started reshaping their own slates with the goal of axing projects that were more financially viable as write-offs as opposed to marketable releases.

The Last Jedi writer and director also spoke to the idea that Hollywood has long been a breeding ground for “horrible things” and troubling practices. In this case by following a “what’s good for the goose” philosophy that completely neglects the creative work and impact of everyone who’d worked to bring those projects to life with the belief that their futures were solidified. But that’s precisely how it’s gone with other corners of the streaming world, from AMC Networks (which canceled in-the-works seasons from 61st Street and Moonhaven, among others) to Paramount+ (where the long-awaited Workaholics movie was canned weeks before its production start) to Disney (which had to pull HBO, Starz shows from its global streaming service).

As a director whose work is as much at the whim of Hollywood execs as anyone, Rian Johnson can’t exactly offer any concrete wisdom about guaranteeing one’s presence in streaming, but offered his optimistic take for any and all creators out there.

All you can do as someone who makes stuff is ultimately put your faith in the notion that if you make something, it’s going to find its audience.

That notion might work well enough for some projects' creative teams, but for those who put the work in on Batgirl and other unfinished productions, it's may come across as adding insult to injury, knowing that no single person would be able to reverse that decision in order to get those projects finished. 

Rather than getting too frustrated about any of it, though, let's let our minds wander into the mystery-driven hijinks driving the cross-country fun of Poker Face, which proved itself to be a bona fide hit after becoming the first Peacock original to break into Nielsen's Streaming TV Top Ten.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.