The hits just keep coming for HBO Max, with the streamer reportedly canceling six animated projects currently in production — including the much-anticipated Batman: Caped Crusader, from Bruce Timm, J.J. Abrams and The Batman director Matt Reeves.
What's happening with HBO Max and its animated projects
The series, which also included Criminal and Reckless writer Ed Brubaker as head writer, was one of a number of projects chopped by the streaming service according to a report appearing in Variety. The others are: The Day The Earth Blew Up: A Looney Tunes Movie, Bye Bye Bunny: A Looney Tunes Musical, Did I Do That to the Holidays: A Steve Urkel Story, The Amazing World of Gumball: The Movie, and holiday special Merry Little Batman. All six projects are officially still in production, with the plan of finding them different outlets upon completion.
The news comes as a significant blow to Warner Bros. Animation, which was the production company for all but The Amazing World of Gumball, produced by Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe (a sister company to Warner Bros. Animation under the Warner Bros. Discovery umbrella).
What's happening with HBO Max and all it's projects
Cancellation on these six projects is the latest in a line of stories about HBO Max apparently significantly downsizing operations in the wake of parent company Warner Bros. merging with Discovery earlier this year. In the past couple of weeks alone, the streaming service has controversially dropped multiple shows and movies with no warning, while also laying off 14% of its staff in a round of layoffs; the service also crashed for a number of users trying to view the debut episode of the much-hyped House of the Dragon series this weekend.
Batman: Caped Crusader had previously been seen as a high-profile project for HBO Max, bringing together the creative force behind the hit movie The Batman with one of the prime movers behind the beloved '90s Batman: The Animated Series. When the project was announced in May 2021, it was officially described as being something that would “once again reinvent Batman and his iconic rogue’s gallery with sophisticated storytelling, nuanced characters and intense action sequences all set in a visually striking world.” The first season of the show was planned to run 10 episodes.
Batman: Caped Crusader isn't canceled
It's worth noting that HBO Max officially canceling a project yet Warner Bros. Discovery continuing production with a view to selling it to another outlet or network is something that new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav explicitly talked about on the same investor call where he mentioned that DC was a priority for the company; his thinking, as he explained it, was that selling projects to external companies would allow the company to maximize profits while maintaining brand awareness; it's an approach currently taken with Warner Bros. Animation's Animaniacs and Bedrock series, which air on Hulu and Fox, respectively.
Given the creative talent on board, it’s likely that Caped Crusader at least will find a new home. Keep your eyes on Popverse for updates on the status of the series, as well as on HBO Max as a whole.
The 1990s Batman Animated series was just the start of a larger universe that included the fan-favorite Static Shock series; look back at that classic show here.