HBO Max and Discovery+ will merge to become one streaming service next year.
In a second quarter earnings call on Thursday (August 4), Warner Bros. Discovery’s CEO David Zaslav announced that the merged streamer will launch in the summer of 2023 in the US, with Latin America, Europe and other territories to follow soon after. The combined streaming service will be released with ad-free, ad-light and ad-only options.
As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Zaslav addressed concerns that the merger would result in less emphasis on original programmes. “There was some buzz today about [how] HBO Max [is] going to start doing less series, and our strategy is to embrace and support and then drive the incredible success that HBO Max is having,” he said.
Following the cancellation of Batgirl, the company also reinforced their push towards blockbuster DC films. “Our ambition is to bring Warner back to produce great, high-quality films. As we look at the opportunities we have broadly, DC is at the top of the list for us.”
He also confirmed that DC is looking to emulate the structure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, adding: “We have done a reset. We’ve restructured the business. We’re going to focus where there will be a team with a ten-year plan focusing just on DC.
“It’s very similar to the structure that Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together very effectively with Kevin Feige at Disney. We think that we could build a long term, much stronger, sustainable growth business out of DC.”
WarnerMedia and Discovery merged in April, combining a portfolio that includes Warner Bros. Entertainment, Discovery Channel, CNN, HBO and Cartoon Network.
Batgirl was axed during post-production after filming concluded in March this year. The film’s directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah shared a statement on Wednesday (August 3) saying that they were “saddened and shocked” by the news.
“We still can’t believe it,” they wrote. “As directors, it is critical that our work be shown to audiences, and while the film was far from finished, we wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film themselves. Maybe one day they will insha’Allah.”
Leslie Grace, who played the lead role of Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl, praised the “incredible cast and tireless crew” in her own statement.
Addressing the reason behind the cancellation, a spokesperson for Warner Bros. said: “The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance.”