WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt defended the decision to remove “Gone With the Wind” from HBO Max and said he has no regrets in doing so, but he wished the film was available with a proper disclaimer before it was added.
Greenblatt explained that while the film has aired on Turner Classic Movies for years, it’s always been introduced with the proper context about how the film romanticizes slavery and the Confederate South, but its placement on the new streaming service failed to provide that context.
“It was sort of a no brainer, I mean, we have the best of intentions obviously here,” Greenblatt said on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show Friday. “I don’t regret taking it down for a second. I only wish we had put it up in the first place with the disclaimer. And we just didn’t do that.”
When searching for “Gone With the Wind” on HBO Max, the film was included as part of the TCM Universe hub, where it’s placed alongside a wider collection of other older, classic films, but it was included as just another title without the context TCM usually provides. Greenblatt praised how TCM has in the past presented the film’s themes both on television and when it has played at the Turner Classic Movie film festival.
“They’ve talked about some of the racial stereotypes and some of issues with how the Civil War is portrayed, which is much more positive than focusing on slavery the darker side of that issue,” he said. “If it was on the linear network, it wouldn’t need it because they’re often talking about these issues. We failed to put the disclaimer in there, which sets up the issue, basically the issues that this movie really brings up. So, we took it off and we’re going to bring it back with a proper context, and it’s what we should have done.”
Greenblatt said they also plan to add to HBO Max a panel discussion that was filmed at the TCM film festival debating “Gone With The Wind’s” legacy and its racial issues. He also added that he has no intention of censoring the film, editing it or simply “lock them away in a vault.”
“This is a complicated film, undeniably one of the most watched films of all time, and most award winning. And it has these issues which are not insignificant. Especially, you know in this moment in the world that we’re in right now. We really do want to put the right context around it,” Greenblatt said. “We shouldn’t deny that they exist, we should show them to people, but also in the right context. And, hopefully shed some light on these issues, which you know, affected Hollywood. The last century in Hollywood, there are many darker moments on film that we need to talk about.”
The move came after earlier this week, screenwriter John Ridley in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times called for the film to be removed from HBO Max but not permanently removed or censored from exhibition entirely. HBO Max said the film’s removal would only be temporary, but it caused a stir among both cinephiles and media types, such as Megyn Kelly, who felt a classic film was being unnecessarily censored.
“Gone With the Wind” stars Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh and was a huge hit upon release, becoming the highest-earning film up to the point, a record it still holds when figures are adjusted for inflation. It also won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel, the first ever African American to win an Academy Award, and Best Picture.