So, how are you feeling? I think we all need some major mood-enhancing meds after living through HBO Max’s big massacre of close to 40 beloved animated and family titles from its streaming library last month. Not only did we hear about the unceremonious dumping of beloved shows such as Infinity Train, Summer Camp Island, Victor and Valentino and Close Enough, we also got word that the streamer has canceled plans for high-profiles animated projects such as Batman: Caped Crusader, Bye Bye Bunny: A Looney Tunes Musical and Scoob! Holiday Haunt.
There has been a major backlash in the animation community as animation professionals responded to CEO David Zaslav’s brutal and callous disregard for the artform in the name of cost-cutting and corporate profits. Industry analysts claim that the company’s CEO had a mandate to save $3 billion and to use the axed shows as tax write-offs for the conglomerate. But as animation creators such as Julia Pott (Summer Camp Island) Owen Dennis (Infinity Train), Parker Simmons (Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart), Jennifer Skelly (Little Ellen), Stephen Neary (The Fungies!) and Myke Chilian (Tig ‘n Seek) pointed out on Twitter and to various media outlets, this was a terribly brutal and inhuman way to treat the professionals who work on these shows, as many found out their shows were canceled on the news.
This whole year has proved to be a challenging period for both animation creatives and fans. After being mocked and exiled to the children’s table at the Academy Awards in March, we witnessed the quick death of several animated projects on Netflix, and we were bracing for more bad news when the HBO Max cancelation train hit us all pretty hard. Of course, we all know that the growth and shrinking of the industry is to be expected. Just a quick look back at the past few decades proves that this is not a new phenomenon. What stings most is the cold and unkind way these giant media machines treat the animation visionaries that are constantly feeding their pipelines. They demand loyalty from audiences, but show none to the bright forces that keep them in business.
But as an optimistic friend pointed out, good shows eventually will end up finding a home. I have a feeling another smart outlet will soon nab the rich library of popular animated titles in the next few months. Let’s hope the great animated movies that were killed before leaving the edit bay will be developed and produced by smart and enterprising entities that see the potential in them. Luckily, there are still many people out there that see the value of investing in creators that share their stories and personal visions in animation. We won’t let a few dark spots dim the light of our favorite artform!