The advent of streaming services promised everyone their favorite shows and movies at the click of a button. Do you want to rewatch “The Office” for the hundredth time? Yes, you can with on-demand content. Well, you used to be able to watch whatever you want at your house but in recent years that has changed.
If you are like me and spend way too much time on the internet you would have heard that the popular cartoon “Over the Garden Wall” was removed from Max on Aug. 31. When the removal was announced, fans were justifiably angry at the announcement.
The episodes are still available on iTunes to purchase, and two episodes are still available on Max and the whole series is on Hulu, but who knows for how long. Since the removal announcement, DVD copies of the shows are being priced on Ebay for over $100 (I know I gasped when I read what copies were going for, too).
The removal of “Over the Garden Wall” can be added to the growing list of shows and movies that have been removed from streaming services for no reason. And can now be classified under the term lost media.
If the name was not obvious enough, any piece of media that may at one time had been available for public consumption, but now either no known copies of it exist or only partial copies are still around today. With completely lost media, our only evidence of it ever existing might be a few production stills, advertisements or a trailer if we are lucky. Sometimes the piece of media was never released to the public.
Max and Disney+ have been the main culprits of this new age of lost media. One of Max’s biggest blunders and the one I still get mad about, is Warner Bros. canceling the release of the highly-anticipated Max original film “Batgirl” based on the very popular DC Comics character of the same name.
“Batgirl” by all accounts, was pretty much finished and had a budget of 90 million dollars. Warner Bros. reasoning for the cancellation was, “The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max.”
The way that Max and Disney+ remove content when it does not work for them anymore seems insidious to me. For example, the Disney+ original movie “Crater” which was released in May, was removed from the platform a mere seven weeks after its release. Disney has removed many of its original Disney+ content from the platform.
If the initial release does not give the studios the instant gratification of success, it is not important to them in the long run. But many movies and TV shows were not hits on their first run, but slowly gained a cult following over time.
The constant removal of shows and movies has made me gravitate to DVDs again because once you buy a physical copy of something, it is yours forever. There is a reason why I own seasons four through 10 of “Law and Order” on DVD. But sadly, the streaming exclusive content that has been removed seldom gets a physical release.
This is not the first time studios haven’t seen the value of its products beyond the dollar signs. In the early days of Hollywood, the studios were very careless in preserving their films.
According to an article from Collider.com, “It’s estimated that 75% of all silent-era films are lost forever, alongside half of all American sound films made before 1950.” As someone who has always been a nerd for silent films, it makes me sad that a significant part of film history is lost forever.
There are many reasons why these films became lost because of fires, poor storage or they would destroy them when they lost their usefulness.
The 1965 MGM vault fire was caused by an electoral short that ignited the highly flammable nitrate film on which the silent and early sound films were filmed (they were literally playing with fire).
This fire destroyed some of the only known copies of MGM films. One of the most well-known films to sadly be destroyed is the 1927 silent film “London After Midnight” starring Lon Chaney.
But this story has a somewhat happy ending. Before the fire, MGM was in the practice of preserving their early works, and 68% of their filmography survived a high survival rate among vault fires.
Sometimes, previously presumed lost films have been discovered as completed or partially completed in private collections. That gives hope that in the future, more could be discovered.