On May 23, HBO Max dropped the “HBO” and simply became “Max.” The new app merges Warner Bros. Media properties, such as HBO shows and Warner Bros. movies, with Discovery content, such as shows from TLC or HGTV.
However, name and content are not the only things that have changed in the shift from HBO Max to Max. When you look at the “details” tab of a movie, you’ll see the service no longer credits directors and writers separately. Instead, they are all listed under the nebulous title of “creators.”
TV shows have experienced a similar change, though you’ll have to look harder to find the “creators.” If you click on the drop down menu in the top-right corner of an episode’s thumbnail and choose “episode details,” you’ll see the episode’s cast and creators. For example, here’s what the episode details of Succession‘s episode “Connor’s Wedding” look like.
Credit: Screenshot: Max
Max credits 16 people as “creators” for just this one Succession episode, but Jesse Armstrong is the sole creator of Succession. Also listed as creators are the episode’s director, Mark Mylod; its writer, also Armstrong; and Succession‘s many producers. But there’s no indication of who fills what role, and the names don’t seem to be listed in any particular order. They aren’t listed alphabetically, nor is this the order they appear in in Succession‘s opening credits.
Entertainment industry creatives met Max’s choice to lump together directors, writers, and producers as “creators” with disdain and anger. Poker Face showrunner Nora Zuckerman wondered how the Writers Guild of America (WGA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), and Producers Guild of America (PGA) would react.
Shadow and Bone writer and producer Christina Strain pointed out that this was another way of erasing creatives’ contributions and separating them from their work.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power writer and producer Helen Shang commented on the disrespect of the general “creator” title, and how it fits into the trend of labelling writers and directors as “content creators” instead of giving them proper credit for their work.
Max’s choice to lump together directors, writers, and producers comes at a particularly fraught time for discussions of proper credit and labor practices within the entertainment industry. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike since May 1 following unsuccessful negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). These negotiations included discussions of fair compensation during the streaming era and the rise of artificial intelligence.
But the WGA may not be the only guild on strike for long. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) and Directors Guild of America (DGA) are currently negotiating with the AMPTP. SAG-AFTRA’s board has already voted to ask members to authorize a strike(opens in a new tab). Could Max’s “creator” section also incentivize the DGA to authorize a strike as well?
UPDATE: May. 24, 2023, 12:25 p.m. EDT Max will correct the “creator” label. In a statement sent to Mashable, an HBO spokesperson said: “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.”