In its ongoing effort to achieve US$3 billion in savings within two years, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has laid off approximately 70 staffers at HBO and HBO Max, multiple media outlets are reporting. The cuts at the streamer represent 14% of its workforce.
The unscripted and live-action family segments were hit the hardest, with senior HBO Max execs including Jennifer O’Connell (EVP of non-fiction and live-action) Michael Quigley (VP and content acquisitions exec) and Jennifer Kim (SVP of international originals) all being let go. Chief content officer Casey Bloys will continue to lead the teams at HBO and HBO Max.
In related news, Deadline reports that Warner Animation Group EVP Allison Abbate has decided to exit the company. Abbate started her Warner career in 1996 and moved into her EVP position at WAG in 2017. In the last five years, she has overseen the release of family-targeted feature films such as Teen Titans Go! to the Movies (2018), The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019), Space Jam: A new Legacy (2021) and, most recently, DC League of Super-Pets (2022).
With live-action and family programming no longer a core focus at WBD, the company has canceled multiple kids projects this month, including Sony Pictures Television’s live-action series Gordita Chronicles, the third season of Ellen DeGeneres’ animated series Little Ellen and two feature films that were set to air on HBO Max later this year (Batgirl and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt).
The company now has its sights firmly focused on the goal of creating the next super-streamer by merging HBO Max with Discovery+. This new service is slated to launch in the US next summer before expanding into Latin America in 2023 and Europe in 2024.