Amid restructuring, synergy, and the future combining of HBO Max and Discovery+ into a new entity, HBO Max has recently decided that some of its quality programming doesn’t need to be shown to its viewers. Over the last few weeks, HBO Max has been quietly taking off several HBO and HBO Max Originals from their streaming service, in addition to canceling movies that were almost completely finished.
With more cuts likely to come in the future, let’s take a look at some of the films and TV shows that HBO Max has decidedly recently no longer needs to be on their service.
An American Pickle
Based on the short story “Sell Out” from Man Seeking Woman and Miracle Workers creator Simon Rich, An American Pickle follows Herschel Greenbaum (Seth Rogen), who falls into a pickle vat in 1919, and wakes up a century later in New York City and finds his descendant Ben (also played by Rogen). The dual roles from Rogen found an unexpected sweetness in this odd story, and brings a lovely warmth to a concept that could’ve been too silly for its own good. An American Pickle was one of the top 20 most-watched films from a subscription video-on-demand service, beating Netflix’s Spenser Confidential, Hulu’s Palm Springs, and the Tom Hanks-starring Greyhound on Apple TV+.
At Home with Amy Sedaris
Amy Sedaris’ surrealist take on homemaking shows, At Home with Amy Sedaris lasted three seasons on truTV and even earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Variety Sketch Program. Shortly before the show came to HBO Max, truTV canceled the show. At Home with Amy Sedaris never earned huge ratings on truTV, but that’s what made it a perfect show for streaming, especially with an extensive and impressive lineup of guest stars like Justin Theroux, Michael Shannon, and John Early, just to name a few. At Home was the type of strange show that audiences would’ve eventually clung to on streaming, but now, they won’t get the chance.
Following the success of Girls, creators Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner created this American adaptation of the British series of the same name, which only lasted one season. While the 2018 series didn’t have the same critical or commercial reception as Girls, it is a bit strange that HBO Max wouldn’t keep it on their service, especially considering the fantastic ensemble cast that included Jennifer Garner, David Tennant, For All Mankind’s Arturo Del Puerto, Juliette Lewis, Ione Skye, This Is Us’ Chris Sullivan, Brett Gelman, and Zola director Janicza Bravo. Considering the major projects many members of this cast came to after Camping, it’s a bit surprising that there hasn’t been some runoff interest in this packed cast.
In hindsight, Chad might’ve actually been one of the first signs of huge changes coming. Chad, starring and created by Nasim Pedrad, originally aired on TBS and was renewed for a second season only a month after premiering. But in July 2022, the day that the second season was supposed to premiere, it was announced that Chad was canceled and would not be airing on TBS. The show briefly appeared on HBO Max, and was, unfortunately, one of the shows that was sneakily taken off the service. While it’s still shocking that HBO Max won’t be releasing films that are almost entirely finished, Chad was maybe the first sign of things to come.
Charm City Kings
Another surprising recent absence, given the amount of talent attached to the film is Charm City Kings, about a 14-year-old who wants to join a group of Baltimore dirt bike riders known as The Midnight Clique. 2020’s Charm City Kings was well-received, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, and was executive produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Charm City Kings starred Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Meek Mill, and Teyonah Parris, but maybe most interesting is that post-Charm City Kings, director Angel Manuel Soto was hired to direct the Blue Beetle film for HBO Max, which is still scheduled for release in August 2023. Fingers crossed Blue Beetle doesn’t face the same end result as Batgirl.
Here and Now
Like Camping, Here and Now was another one-season show from a creator who had found previous success at HBO. Alan Ball, coming off the successes of Six Feet Under and True Blood, created another series around a family, this time, a multiracial family in Portland, that just didn’t take off the way Ball’s previous shows had. But considering the show starred Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins, and considering Ball’s great track record otherwise with HBO, it’s odd that even he couldn’t make it through the cuts unscathed.
During the early 2000s, it seemed that with shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Oz, and The Wire, HBO could do no wrong. However, amongst all these hits came K Street, which only lasted one season and starred, of all people, James Carville and Mary Matalin as themselves, and included John Slattery pre-Mad Men and Mary McCormack. Yet again, K Street comes from a filmmaker who seemingly has a good reputation with HBO Max, as Steven Soderbergh created and directed the series. Soderbergh’s latest films, like No Sudden Move and Kimi have been released exclusively on HBO Max, and while K Street certainly doesn’t have the cache as some of the films he has on the service, it’s strange that HBO Max would want less Soderbergh.
Locked Down from director Doug Liman and writer Steven Knight, suffered from the fact that audiences seemingly didn’t want entertainment about being locked in during the pandemic. Starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor as a London couple who are ready to end things, yet have been stuck quarantined together in their flat, Locked Down was slightly more successful in its second half, when it becomes a department store heist film. Liman is doing his best Soderbergh impression here, and with a cast that also features Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Lucy Boynton, Ben Stiller, Ben Kingley, and Dulé Hill, Locked Down seems like it should’ve lasted on HBO Max for more than 19 months.
The most recent title to get pulled from HBO Max, Moonshot only managed to last on the streaming service for a little over four months. The sci-fi tale about a college student (Lana Condor) and a barista (Cole Sprouse) sneaking onto a space shuttle to Mars. While Moonshot seemed to be more style than substance, it’s truly wild that Chris Winterbauer’s film only had a few months to prove itself, before it was unceremoniously stripped from HBO Max.
Considering the pedigree of Mrs. Fletcher, a series created by The Leftovers’ Tom Perotta, starring Kathryn Hahn, and with episodes directed by Enough Said’s Nicole Holofcener, Carrie Brownstein, and Obvious Child’s Gillan Robespierre, Mrs. Fletcher absolutely seems like the type of miniseries that many would’ve eventually discovered on HBO Max. Hahn played the title Mrs. Fletcher, who experiences a midlife crisis/sexual awakening once her son goes to college. Hahn received rave reviews, before going on to also appear in I Know This Much Is True, WandaVision, and The Shrink Next Door. And of course, giving the people less Hahn is an absolute travesty.
Another show that had an excellent pedigree of creators and cast that just never took off the way HBO hoped was Run, created Vicky Jones—who directed Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s stage production of Fleabag. Run starred the always great Merritt Weaver and Domhnall Gleeson, who made a pact that if either of them texted “RUN” to the other, they would both drop their lives and meet at Grand Central Terminal and travel American together. Seventeen years after making that pact, the two meet up on a train and explore their current lives and where they could’ve gone. While Run had a promising premise, the show never quite found its rhythm. One season might’ve been enough for Run, but for fans of Weaver, Gleeson, and Waller-Bridge—who also had a recurring role—this was a fun single-season show worth checking out.
It’s probably not a good idea to create a movie around the most average person on Earth, Carol (played by Melissa McCarthy), let alone cast James Vorden as an A.I. trying to decide whether it should save or destroy mankind, with Carol left as the person trying to prove Earth is worth saving. While McCarthy’s collaborations with her husband and director Ben Falcone haven’t been the most critically beloved, it’s hard to ignore the fantastic cast of Superintelligence, which includes Bobby Cannavale, Brian Tyree Henry, Jean Smart, Sam Richardson, and Michael Beach. But less than two years after its release, Superintelligence is nowhere to be seen online.
Arguably the biggest disappointment on this list is Vinyl, a show that had massive expectations when it debuted in 2016. Created by Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Rich Cohen, and Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter, Vinyl look at a record executive (played by Cannavale) only lasted one season. Like so many other titles on this list, Vinyl, in hindsight, has an incredible cast that includes Jack Quaid, Ray Romano, Juno Temple, and Olivia Wilde, and with a pilot episode directed by Martin Scorsese, there’s no question that fans of these cast members and especially Scorsese would’ve checked this out at some point.
In September 2021, Netflix acquired the Roald Dahl Story Company, which might explain why HBO Max’s adaptation of The Witches didn’t survive the company’s recent cuts. Another remarkably great cast and crew, The Witches was directed by Forrest Gump Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis, and co-written by Zemeckis, black-ish creator Kenya Barris, and Guillermo del Toro. Yet another title that had an excellent cast, The Witches starred Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Chris Rock, and Kristin Chenowith. Again, The Witches didn’t receive the greatest reception from critics, with many preferring the 1990 Nicolas Roeg adaptation, but Dahl and Zemeckis alone have enough fans that make one think this would’ve been safe.
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