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Warner Bros. versus animation – The disturbing casualty of corporate mergers and streaming

Anti-Animation and streaming going hand-in-hand?



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Not too long ago was Warner Bros. a near-synonymous term with the art of animation, with the likes of channels and franchises like Cartoon Network, as well as Boomerang and Adult Swim off-shoots, with WAG creating the flurry of mediocre to highly promising DC animations that sparked the imagination. But something has changed. A merging.

Corporate mergers like that of Disney and 20th Century Fox, seemed to be colossal an event in the world of trade and commerce, but as far as film rights and the content born from regaining IP, the transition for much of Disney and Marvel felt damn near frictionless. Contrarily, it seems the merger of Discovery and Warner Bros. made less ripples in the news cycle save for the outcome of the franchises and content coming under new management. DC’s upheaval, the cancelling of Batgirl for example, are now seemingly drops in a well of dismay. The near-finished film was made with nine-figure private production budgets and reportedly it used along with other cancelled projects as tax write-offs.

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More disturbingly, developments show Warner Bros and HBO Max have been taking the ax to a particular genre of entertainment – Animation. This is not a problem isolated to HBO Max. Netflix earlier this year found themselves doing away with animation. Streaming has not been kind to the quality and integrity of the art form. Nevertheless, the move has left animators clueless. Understandably. As not just films are being removed from release schedules, but all social-facing content promoting the cancelled animation series are scrubbed from the internet as well. Tweets. Social posts. Original YouTube pilots. Everything. Scrubbed.

Warner Bros. Discovery has yet to confirm why any of these programs were canceled or removed, leading to rumors and speculation.

Dennis , the creator of the cancelled Infinity Train animated series, spoke on the disturbing events that has affected him and many others like him.

 It has me worried. I think it has most people worried, fans and creators alike. It makes it seem as though all of this is much more impermanent than fans and creators of this kind of art were led to believe.

It also seems the animations that have been cancelled got much of their start in online videos before being greenlit for serial television. Our guess is this is down to some obscure virality metric that such series fall short of. Regardless, the scrubbing of the once-planned HBO Max animation series like Infinity Train, OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes and Kyle Carozza’s Mighty Magiswords is something I have not personally witnessed before. And it is disturbing.

Animation doesn’t hold much value to the current businessman in charge [at Warner Bros. Discovery/HBO Max]. Animation has survived worse than this, but do think the outrage is warranted.

Kyle carozza, creator of Mighty magiswords

And Carozza is right. It seems those in charge don’t see the value in animation. Marvel is their afflatus. Which could bite them in the ass in the long wrong. But animation, like the comic, has inspired and revolutionised the film industry from its very inception. The fact the investment in the artform is being ditched in such a brutal way to save a quick buck and cheap tax write-offs is abysmal. Especially when you consider the latest move against animation is costing them as much in the long run as in the short. Within just days of the removal of shows like these, Warner Bros. Discovery lost $20 billion in marketing cap. That is more than a pretty penny.

Warner Bros Discovery is thinking bigger picture. But the more we see, it seems their viewpoint is through the rose-coloured tint of pecuniary gain. Not legacy. Or even laying out a plan to champion only a specific type of animation over another. When money is the aim, promising films and animation that don’t have franchises attached to them will always seem like dead weight ripe for the severing. Ironically, imagine if animation and comics that built the film-inspiring franchises of today met the same callous business-types who could not see its value when in its embryonic stage?

Warner Bros. Discovery owes these creators at the very least an explanation. What legal recourse these animators and creators have is also yet to be seeing, though WB likely is iron-clad to the tits with clauses and contracts.

Let’s hope this is not the going trend, and its now the true lovers of animation will have to step up to show support for creators and the very craft itself.

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