Family animation continues to feel the brunt of post-merger Warner Bros. Discovery’s write-down efforts and content cuts. As of December 31, HBO Max has removed Seasons 16-31 of its Looney Tunes library, as well as Seasons 4-6 of Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones. Both titles were licensed to the streamer from Warner Bros. in an intra-company deal that expired at the end of 2022 and was not renewed.
The Looney Tunes / Merrie Melodies loss comprises 256 classics shorts (out of the streamer’s previous 511-cartoon-strong collection) produced between 1950 and 2004. As noted by Vulture, his frame spans celebrated works by animation icons Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Robert McKimson et al, including What’s Opera, Doc? (1957), the first animated film to be added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry; Oscar winners Speedy Gonzales (1955) and Knighty Knight Bugs (1958); Rabbit of Seville (1950); Feed the Kitty (1952); Duck Amuck (1953); and Michigan J. Frog’s debut in One Froggy Evening (1955).
Seasons 4 through 6 of The Flintstones, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera’s beloved “modern Stone Age family” send-up of the mid-century sitcom, total 78 episodes which originally aired from 1963 to 1966. These paleolithic escapades include the Ann-Margret guest star event “Ann-Margrock Presents,” the introductions of Bamm-Bamm Rubble and The Great Gazoo, and an episode where Bewitched stars Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York move in as the Flintstones’ new neighbors.
Animation Magazine has confirmed with a source connected to Cartoon Network and HBO Max that the affected seasons will not be brought back, despite an unverified report that the loss was temporary on Twitter. It is not known at this time whether the deleted content will be made available on other streaming platforms. Looney Tunes S1-15 and The Flintstones S1-3 are still available on HBO Max for now.
The boot to these classic toons follows much-maligned moves to purge Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Animation titles from the HBO Max library and the streamer’s upcoming slate this summer, including critically acclaimed and fan-favorite series like Infinity Train, Summer Camp Island and Victor and Valentino, as well as planned “ACME Night” additions including Batman: Caped Crusader, The Amazing World of Gumball: The Movie! and two feature-length Looney Tunes projects.
Warner Bros. Discovery is preparing to offer streaming audiences an as-yet unnamed platform merging HBO Max and Discovery+ in the U.S. this spring.
[Sources: Variety, Vulture]