‘Driftwood’: Animated Movie Cancelled at Cartoon Network Amid HBO Max Cuts

Another highly anticipated title under the HBO Max banner is being scrapped, and it’s yet another animation casualty. Driftwood, the first animated feature film by Aquaman: King of Atlantis co-creator Victor Courtright, has been canceled just over three months after it was given the green light. The film was part of a collaboration between HBO Max and Cartoon Network Studios to shine a light on burgeoning creatives in the animation industry.

Billed as an animated space opera for the whole family, the film would’ve followed Clover, a mouse-like creature in search of the fabled city of Driftwood which stands as the last bastion of freedom in a decaying society ruled over by an evil corporation. Aside from being a haven of free society, legend has it that the city hides the secret to sustainable fuel. Overlord Thorn, who leads the organization, is intent on destroying both Clover and Driftwood, thus removing the only hope of opposing their rule and ensuring society must rely on the organization’s toxic fuel source. The film would’ve centered on Clover’s battle to save all society from Thorn alongside a pair of new allies in Marigold and Caspia.

Thanks to the mind behind it and the promising premise, interest in the film was relatively high. Given the success of King of Atlantis and his resume full of animation work and writing for ThunderCats Roar, Pickle & Peanut, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 among others, Courtright had more than proven himself capable as a creator. With the feature no longer in the works, and the general philosophy of HBO Max’s restructuring, it’s possible Invincible Fight Girl, the other collaborative effort of the streamer and Cartoon Network, may also be on the chopping block.

Driftwood seems to be another project lost with HBO Max’s shift in philosophy following the Warner Bros. Discovery merger and subsequent ascension of David Zaslav to CEO. Most of the cuts have been in the animation division, with over 30 titles being wiped off the platform in order to save on residuals. An official statement also notes the streamer is looking to move away from kids and family animation. As the cuts have unfolded, criticism against the company has continued to grow with the creator of Infinity Train the most recent to speak out against the unprofessionalism displayed by Warner Bros. Discovery for pulling shows suddenly and without any communication. In total, Zaslav is looking to cut around $3 billion in costs.

Following the announcement of Driftwood’s cancelation, one production manager at Cartoon Network took to Twitter to express their disappointment that the film wouldn’t be moving forward. Those sentiments were also shared by Warner Bros. Animation’s Jen Hurler who lamented that Courtright’s vision wouldn’t be realized. The space adventure wasn’t the only project to get the shaft this time around. A number of other promising projects, including Batman: Caped Crusader, were put to the sword in the latest round of cuts.

See the statements from Hurler and the production manager below.

Working on this was such a treat. The whole crew is amazing and we all were so excited to share this. Now, I’m just heartbroken that no one will see more than this poster https://t.co/Z4oDbvOyOb

— Finnjamin Button (@Dhubetter) August 22, 2022

This film was shaping up to be so fantastic and meaningful. I was so thrilled to have been a small part of such a gorgeous, original 2d animated film from a voice like Victor and a studio like CNS. Fucking sucks. https://t.co/Cn7eztc3pQ

— Jen Hurler (@AnimComplex) August 22, 2022

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