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Warner Bros Discovery executive says coverage of content purge was excessive

Gunnar Wiedenfels, the chief financial officer of Warner Bros Discovery, appears in an undated handout image.
Gunnar Wiedenfels, the chief financial officer of Warner Bros Discovery, appears in an undated handout image. (Photo courtesy Warner Bros Discovery, Graphic by The Desk)

An executive in charge of revenue at Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) says media reports centered around the studio’s recent content purge and the decision to cancel the release of the superhero film “Batgirl” was “blown out of proportion.”

At an industry conference on Thursday, WBD’s Chief Financial Officer Gunnar Wiedenfels asserted the media company was “spending more than ever in the history of the two legacy companies.”

“Media likes to talk about media,” Wiedenfels complained. “I perceive the situation at Warner Bros Discovery differently, and much more positively, than some of what you see in the press.”

The decision to pull Batgirl came as the film was in the final stages of production. The move was seen as an extremely rare and unusual choice for a movie studio that invested millions of dollars in the movie. It was even became a punchline for comedian John Oliver, whose late-night news satire program “Last Week Tonight” is carried on WBD’s HBO cable channel and streaming service.

“Seems like you’re doing a really great job,” Oliver said, addressing his remarks to HBO’s “business daddy.”

“I do get the vague sense that you’re burning down my network for the insurance money, but I’m sure that will all pass,” he quipped.

In addition to the film, WBD has moved to cancel some shows that were slated for the streaming service HBO Max. It has also pulled some lesser-viewed content on the platform, including over 200 episodes of the program “Sesame Street,” which was licensed to HBO several years ago.

Wiedenfels said the moves weren’t unusual for a company that just completed a blockbuster merger, and that there hasn’t been a significant amount of push back from talent or agents.

“There’s a lot of excitement about that strategic vision of being in business across the entire value chain as opposed to just focusing on one platform,” Wiedenfels claimed. “There’s enormous excitement, and we have healthy relationships with talents. I think we are offering one of the best platforms for anyone in the creative space.”