Warner Bros. Discovery’s newly launched Max lumped film directors and writers under a single “creators” heading — a change that prompted a backlash from filmmakers and Hollywood’s directors and writers guilds. Now the company says it is reverting the listings back to how they were presented on HBO Max, blaming the issue on a technical “oversight.”
“We agree that the talent behind the content on Max deserve their work to be properly recognized,” a Max spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. “We will correct the credits, which were altered due to an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max and we apologize for this mistake.”
Max’s move to consolidate writers, directors and other creatives under the single “creators” listing drew ire amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, as the union is seeking to reach a new contract with major studios through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
The Max change was called out in a widely viewed tweet Tuesday night by John Frankensteiner, who wrote, “The new HBO Max (MAX) has eliminated writer/director credits in their interface in favor of a vague ‘Creators,'” posting a screenshot of the listing page on the service for “Raging Bull.” He added, “It’s so fucking over.”
Currently, Max’s details page for “Raging Bull” displays this listing: “Creators: Peter Savage, Martin Scorsese, Mardik Martin, Robert Chartoff, Paul Schrader, Jake La Motta, Irwin Winkler, Joseph Carter.” Previously, the HBO Max listing for “Raging Bull” — and other films — had distinguished between directors and writers. IMDb’s listing notes that “Raging Bull” is directed by Scorsese and separately lists writing credits.
“An absolute master class in how to fuck up a streaming service. This will be studied for years,” commented filmmaker Steven DeKnight, whose credits include TV series “Daredevil” and “Spartacus.”
In a jointly released statement issued Wednesday before WBD said it would change the film credits listings on Max, the presidents of the Directors Guild of America and WGA West slammed the “unilateral decision by Warner Bros. Discovery to change the long-standing individual credits of directors and writers in the new rollout of Max.”
WGA West president Meredith Stiehm said, “Warner Bros has lumped writers, directors and producers into an invented, diminishing category they call ‘Creators.’ This is a credits violation for starters. But worse, it is disrespectful and insulting to the artists that make the films and TV shows that make their corporation billions.” She added, “This attempt to diminish writers’ contributions and importance echoes the message we heard in our negotiations with AMPTP — that writers are marginal, inessential, and should simply accept being paid less and less, while our employers’ profits go higher and higher. This tone-deaf disregard for writers’ importance is what brought us to where we are today — Day 22 of our strike.”
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“For almost 90 years, the Directors Guild has fought fiercely to protect the credit and recognition deserved by directors for the work they create,” said DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter. “Warner Bros. Discovery’s unilateral move, without notice or consultation, to collapse directors, writers, producers and others into a generic category of ‘creators’ in their new Max rollout while we are in negotiations with them is a grave insult to our members and our union.”
Meanwhile, Max doesn’t list such credits for TV series (and HBO Max didn’t, either).
Max launched in the U.S. on Tuesday, May 23, with what appeared to be only minor technical issues. That came two days after WBD chief David Zaslav was booed during his commencement address at Boston University, with the crowd heckling the CEO with chants of “pay your writers.”
The newly revamped Max service launched with 35,000-plus hours of programming, more than double what was on HBO Max, largely thanks to hundreds of shows being added from the Discovery side of the house. According to the company, a “large portion” of HBO Max subscribers should have had their apps automatically updated to Max, with their plan information and preferences migrated into the new app. However, in many cases, users needed to download the new Max app.