The “deleting shows and movies just to save some tax money” trend that is rippling through major streaming networks has seemingly hit a new, farcical low with the removal of the film Crater from Disney Plus. Crater was released on May 12, 2023.
The plan—and Disney hasn’t confirmed Crater was wiped for this, but why else would it be—works like this: media companies have learned that by removing TV shows and movies from their streaming platforms they can write down the value of their “content assets”, which in turn reduces their overall tax bill. It also reduces the licensing fees these companies are paying.
It’s a ruthless strategy that betrays just how overrun Hollywood has become by executives more interested in Wall Street than the stuff their companies are making, and it’s incredibly depressing not just for those who worked on these shows/movies, but for fans and, well, anyone who can appreciate not everything has to be an instant blockbuster for it to have some kind of meaning and impact.
Until last week, the shows and movies being culled—at Disney and other studios—had included those released somewhat recently, but for whatever had underperformed vs expectations, like 2022’s Willow and Y: The Last Man (which I liked!). That was bad, but Disney’s decision to wipe Crater—released just seven weeks ago—is taking the piss.
The film, a family sci-fi adventure, was by all accounts fine. Nothing extraordinary, but nothing anyone involved would be embarrassed by either. It starred Mckenna Grace, from the latest Ghostbusters movie and Handmaid’s Tale, along with Billy Barratt (from Apple’s dangerously underrated Invasion) and Kid Cudi. People who were into it said it was fun, and also had a sad ending, and what else would you need or expect from a movie Disney made for kids and sent straight to a streaming service.
Well, I mean, you would expect the movie to stick around and be able to be enjoyed by people in the months and years to come. But now it’s just gone. There’s no way to legally view this film. It’s as though it never existed. One of the key selling points for streaming services was that they were going to eliminate piracy. Now here we are, just a few years later, and piracy is going to be the only way a ton of TV shows and movies are ever going to be saved.