HBO Max continues its baffling decisions regarding its animated programming, with six animated projects no longer making their way to the direct-to-consumer streaming platform, TheWrap has confirmed.
Among the projects that will no longer stream on the platform: “Batman: The Caped Crusader,” from “The Batman” director Matt Reeves, J.J. Abrams and comic book luminary Ed Brubaker; “Did I Do That to the Holidays: A Steve Urkel Story,” an animated “Family Matters” spinoff; and two high-profile “Looney Tunes” features.
While those projects are still in development, some of which are pretty far along, TheWrap has confirmed that “Driftwood,” an original HBO Max animated feature from Victor Courtright, has been fully canceled.
“Batman: The Caped Crusader,” from Reeves, Abrams, Brubaker and “Batman: The Animated Series” vet Bruce Timm, was described at a recent DC fan event as “more ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ than ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’” promising to lean into that aesthetic and sensibility in a big way. Additionally, “Merry Little Batman,” a Christmastime animated feature from executive producer/director Mike Roth and writer Morgan Evans, was a kind of Batman-ified version of “Home Alone,” with Damien Wayne in Wayne Manor alone for the holidays who has to defend his castle against intruders.
On the “Looney Tunes” side, there was “The Day the Earth Blew Up: A Looney Tunes” movie, written by Kevin Costello, which had a science fiction bent and saw Porky and Daffy uncovering an alien conspiracy. There was also “Bye Bye Bunny,” a big, animated jukebox musical that was written by Ariel Dumas, a head writer for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” The movie was set on Broadway. They were doing a number from “Little Shop of Horrors.” What could possibly be better? (This one was very far along and footage was screened during this past summer’s Annecy Festival in France, with Warner Bros. previously very bullish about the project.)
“Did I Do That to the Holidays: A Steve Urkel Story,” with Jaleel White reprising his iconic role and Wyatt Cenec writing and executive producing, was also canceled, as well as “The Amazing World of Gumball: The Movie.” The latter, directed by Ben Bocquelet and written by Shane Mack, was meant to be a bridge from the original “The Amazing World of Gumball” series and a new show called “Amazing World of Gumball: The Series” (we can’t make this up). The show is still supposed to be happening but the movie … who knows?
Most of these projects will still be shopped around to other streamers. But their cost and how closely associated they are with another company or studio could make them tough to pick up.
Additionally, “Driftwood,” an original animated feature that was announced just a few months ago, is kaput. Officially described as ““an original animated space opera with big laughs, heart and adventure for the entire family,” it would have shared the vibe of Courtright’s earlier endeavors for HBO Max/Warner Bros., “Thundercats Roar!” and “Aquaman: King of Atlantis.”
More perplexing is that Warner Bros. was a studio built on its animation legacy and the maniacs that inhabited the shabby building lovingly dubbed “Termite Terrace.” Their animation was arguably more artful and oftentimes funnier than what Walt Disney and his brother Roy were producing, and the anarchic spirit of Warner Bros. cartoons has helped define not only their output but animation in general, so profound was its effect.