Warner Bros. Discovery’s baffling (but unsurprising) decision to lump writers, directors, and producers together as nondescript “creators” in Max’s new credits section has been met with almost nothing but contempt for reasons that should be very clear four weeks into an industry-wide writers strike. Now, the entertainment giant is apologizing for the move, blaming it on technical issues and apparently working to make things right.
In joint public statements from Writers Guild of America West president Meredith Stiehm and Directors Guild of America president Lesli Linka Glatter, both organizations lambasted Warner Bros. Discovery Wednesday afternoon for Max’s “devaluation of the individual contributions of artists.”
“For almost 90 years, the Directors Guild has fought fiercely to protect the credit and recognition deserved by Directors for the work they create,” Glatter said, insisting that what happened with Max is part of a pattern the unions are trying to push back on. “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.”
Stiehm added that, in addition to being an outright credits violation, Max’s “diminishing” creators designation “is disrespectful and insulting to the artists that make the films and TV shows that and [sic] make their corporation billions.”
“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,” Stiehm said. “This tone-deaf disregard for writers’ importance is what brought us to where we are today - Day 22 of our strike.”
When we reached out to Warner Bros. Discovery for comment around the backlash to Max, a representative provided a boilerplate statement, stating, “We agree that the talent behind the content on Max deserve their work to be properly recognized.”
“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,” the statement read.
It’s quite possible that during all of the work it took to remake HBO Max and lop off the most recognizable part of its brand name, someone’s finger somehow slipped, let’s say, leading to data from the old platform not being moved over correctly.
But it feels more plausible that someone (or a boardroom full of someones) at Warner Bros. Discovery just thought people wouldn’t notice its attempt at encouraging the public to think about everyone who makes movies as nondescript creation machines rather than people — many of whom are on strike right now fighting to be paid what they’re owed.
Disclosure: The Verge’s editorial staff is also unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.