HBO’s ‘Max’ Transition Drops Writer, Director Credits

On May 23 2023, a post on Reddit to r/movies claimed that when HBO Max rebranded as “Max,” the platform stopped crediting writer and directors:

The text-based post appeared to describe firsthand observations:

Fact Check

Claim: HBO Max rebranding to ‘Max’ removes writer and director credits

Description: When HBO Max was rebranded to ‘Max’, it was claimed that the platform stopped crediting writers and directors individually and grouped their credits together under a ‘creator’ category. The platform came under fire for this, especially against the backdrop of the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike.

Rating: True

Rating Explanation: Reddit posts, Variety report, ABC News report, joint statement from the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America and other media reports corroborate that the credits were indeed briefly consolidated into a ‘creator’ category following the transition of HBO Max to ‘Max’. The platform claimed this change was due to a technical ‘oversight’ and pledged to correct it.

Today [May 23 2023], HBO streaming was replaced by the new Max service. Pick any movie and look at the “Details”. Normally this is where you’ll find who wrote, directed and produced the movie.

These roles are no longer directly credited. Instead we have a new “Creators” credit.

Lawrence of Arabia was “created” by Robert Bold, David Lean.

Memento? “Suzanne Todd, Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, Aaron Ryder, Jennifer Todd”

No Country for Old Men? “Ethan Coen, Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Cormac McCarthy”.

This is deeply lame and I hope they’ll stop this asap.

On May 24 2023, a similar post was shared to r/Filmmakers. In the title of the post, its submitter stated that “HBO Max is getting rid of” director credits, replacing it with “creator” or “creators”:

In r/Filmmakers, the most upvoted replies referenced related events, specifically the2023 Writers Guild of America strike:

“This seems like a stab at the WGA [Writers Guild of America] and DGA [Directors Guild of America].”

“Soon SAG [Screen Actors Guild] will be coming along.”

“Yes, SAG/AFTRA [Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists] are voting to strike.”

More broadly, the posts coveref HBO Max’s transition to “Max.” On May 23 2023, technology news site The Verge reported:

[May 23 2023] marks Warner Bros. Discovery’s big debut of Max, the new streaming service that bundles all of the company’s entertainment together inside one single destination. All the eggs are going into one basket, and yes, HBO is still getting a prominent focus — even if it’s no longer in the name.

A few hours later, NPR followed with a listicle about the platform’s changes. At the beginning of the piece, its author described a “glitchy launch”:

When you spend months hyping the debut of a new streaming service, the last thing you want customers to see on your big launch day is error messages and snarky comments on social media.

But that’s what happened for some subscribers Tuesday morning [May 23 2023] trying to log onto the mega streaming service Max, which Warner Bros. Discovery created to unite content from its two biggest platforms, HBO Max and Discovery+.

Including me.

Subscribers to HBO Max were supposed to transition relatively seamlessly to Max. But for 90 minutes or so this morning [of May 23 2023], while trying to convert my HBO Max subscription, I kept seeing [an error message].

Later that day, the post to r/movies identified the changes to credits. On May 24 2023, ABC News reported changes to the HBO/Max’s credits:

Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming service Max may only be hours into its rollout, but it quickly came under fire by top Hollywood guilds for the way it credits writers and directors.

Early Wednesday [May 24 2023], some started noticing a change to the credits on films. Instead of individually listing writers, directors and producers, the new Max format had lumped them all together. By Wednesday afternoon [May 24 2023], the presidents of the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America West had issued a strongly worded joint statement condemning the “creator” credit.

Trade publication Variety followed (“Max Will Change Film Credit Listings to Break Out Directors and Writers After Backlash Over ‘Creators’ Heading”). It quoted a spokesperson for the platform’s claim that the consolidated credits were simply an “oversight”:

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.”

A Los Angeles Times article published on the same day included comments from industry people, including a joint statement from the DGA and WGA:

The Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America released a joint statement [on May 24 2023] decrying the move.

“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,” DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter said in a statement. “The DGA will not stand for it.”

Writers Guild of America West President Meredith Stiehm said, “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,” Stiehm said.

Protecting directors’ so-called creative rights, which includes credits, is among a broad range of issues members of the DGA are battling over with Hollywood studios ahead of a contract lapsing on June 30 [2023]. Directors and writers also are fighting to preserve residuals — fees for reairing productions — on streaming platforms, among other issues.

“How do they think the [Writers Guild], [Directors Guild] and [Producers Guild] would be even remotely okay with this?” tweeted “Poker Face” showrunner Nora Zuckerman.

A tweet about the controversy by filmmaker Asif Kapadia was linked in the Los Angeles Times story:

Others speculated that the alleged oversight would be costly, tweeting:

On May 23 2023, HBO Max rebranded as “Max,” initially making the news for a “glitchy launch.” Late in the day, an account on r/movies spotted the HBO/Max “credits” screen, on which writing and directing credits had been rolled together into a “creator” category. HBO/Max quickly came under fire against the backdrop of the WGA strike, and the platform blamed “an oversight” for the change to credits.