Netflix Cancels Two Completed Films, But Cuts Unlikely to Reach HBO Max Levels
In news that may sound eerily familiar to HBO Max users, Netflix is offloading two original films from its release schedule. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix has canceled the genre films “Inheritance” and “House/Wife,” and the movies will now be shopped around to other providers.
In “House/Wife,” a mother recovering from a brutal accident moves into a prototype smart home with her family, only to find the house’s AI system may have sinister intentions. “The Inheritance” centers on an aging billionaire who invites his four estranged children to his estate to protect him from a force he’s convinced is out to kill him. Unless they keep him alive, they will lose their sizable inheritance.
There has been a noticeable uptick in the cancelation of already-completed shows and movies by streaming services in the past year. The trend first gained notoriety when HBO Max pulled its essentially-finished “Batgirl” from the release schedule, favoring a tax write-down of $90 million over the potential benefits of streaming the film.
A whole slew of content cuts followed after “Batgirl” from HBO Max, including high-profile removals from the service like with “Westworld,” and the cancelation of “The Minx” despite Season 2 being nearly completely finished. HBO Max’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery assured customers recently that it had finished cutting shows from the service, readying HBO Max for the next step in its evolution when it will merge with discovery+ sometime this spring.
When discussing the swath of destruction carved on HBO Max throughout the second half of 2022, WBD CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels gave his opinion that other media companies would likely have to follow suit if they wanted their streaming services to turn a profit.
“We shaved off a lot of the excess last year,” Wiedenfels said. “I think that’s something that everyone else in the industry is going to go through. We’re coming from an irrational time of overspending with very limited focus on return on investment, and I think others are going to have to make some adjustments that we frankly have behind us now.”
Does that mean that upcoming seasons for high-profile shows like “Bridgerton” or “Ginny and Georgia” could be shopped to other services? Anything is certainly possible in an industry as complex as streaming, but it’s highly unlikely that content cuts on Netflix will reach the levels seen on HBO Max.
For one thing, Netflix doesn’t have to worry about a pivot to profitability; it already operates at a profit. Netflix made over $12 billion in 2022, which is a far cry from companies like Disney which lost $1.5 billion in a single quarter last year, which was partially responsible for former CEO Bob Chapek being replaced by his predecessor Bob Iger.
Indeed, very few of the major streaming services will likely undergo content cuts to the extremes that HBO Max saw. WBD’s flagship streamer is in a unique position, because the company is having to figure out ways to cut money after the fees associated with Discovery’s acquisition of WarnerMedia ballooned to over $5 billion.
No other streaming service in the United States is dealing with anything similar to that currently, and most are owned by media companies with multiple revenue streams. Disney has its theme parks and merchandising, while Prime Video is backed by the e-commerce power of Amazon. WBD has its linear networks and movie studio to fall back on, but those linear networks are less and less profitable every year as pay TV continues to decline.
So while smaller genre films and series like “Inheritance” and “House/Wife” may continue to get cut at various streaming services in the coming months, it’s unlikely that any streamer will undergo the broad cancelations seen at HBO Max in 2022. Netflix will continue to be a leading content creator, pledging to spend around $17 billion on new shows and movies in 2023.