Along with making Warner Bros. Discovery a less diverse place in general, CEO David Zaslav’s recent corporate restructuring is likely to eviscerate Cartoon Network and reduce it to a shell of its former self.
For logical reasons, Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to terminate 82 employees and close 43 unfilled positions in its Television division made headlines earlier this week. However, the consequences of the company’s proposal to integrate Warner Bros.
Animation and Cartoon Network Studios could be far greater than what Warner Bros. Television CEO Channing Dungey recently hinted in a company-wide internal memo.
Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe, Warner Bros. Animation, and Cartoon Network Studios will all continue to exist and be controlled by Sam Register as part of the company’s “new streamlined structure,” according to Dungey’s memo.
However, the latter two animation labels will now share “development and main production teams,” which is bad news for Cartoon Network, which has typically been home to more unique IPs such as Craig of the Creek, Victor And Valentino, and Summer Camp Island.
Zaslav has undoubtedly slashed part of Warner Bros. Discovery’s spending by withdrawing Batgirl, canceling shows like Raised by Wolves, and scrapping planned projects like J.J. Abrams’ unreleased Demimonde series.
In principle, the merger of Warner Bros. Animation with Cartoon Network Studios is another cost-cutting maneuver that, hopefully, will not impair either company’s ability to develop content.
Looking at the issue realistically, it’s difficult to understand how two different production branches with their own budgets could possibly sustain their previous levels of output after being forced to share resources in this manner. Craig of the Creek and Jessica’s Big Little World, both on Cartoon Network, had their season episode orders reduced by half earlier this month.
While both episodes (as well as the impending Craig of the Creek film) are still in production, the manner they’re being reduced while being part of one of Cartoon Network’s most successful current franchises feels like a foreshadowing of things to come. In all likelihood, Warner Bros.
Discovery aims to keep the Cartoon Network brand alive in the same manner that it likely intends to keep the HBO brand alive (at least someplace, perhaps as a tab) on whatever platform HBO Max and Discovery Plus will become.
However, it appears that the Cartoon Network of the future may simply be a nostalgic brand that Warner Bros. Discovery keeps around while Warner Bros. Animation is given the means to generate fresh adaptations of its old IP such as Velma and yet another Powerpuff Girls episode.