The long-awaited streaming service from WarnerMedia now has a title. It’s called HBO Max, and the service will offer original programming, called Max Originals, and older titles from Warner Media’s portfolio of brands, libraries, and franchises. The lineup through 2021 is extensive, offering A-list actors, producers, and directors, all making original series and specials for every genre. The original’s lineup is one of the largest launches we’ve seen from a streaming service, and we are eager to learn more about the pricing.
Thanks to several new deals, HBO Max has the exclusive streaming rights at launch to all 236 episodes of “Friends.” The service also has the exclusive streaming rights to “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “Pretty Little Liars.” Subscribers will also be able to stream dramas from The CW, beginning with the fall 2019 season. These include the new DC Entertainment series “Batwoman,” and “Katy Keene,” which is a spinoff of “Riverdale.”
The service also secured exclusive movie production deals. These partners include Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon. In the new deal, Berlanti will produce an initial four movies focused in the young adult space, while Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine will produce at least two films.
“HBO Max will bring together the diverse riches of WarnerMedia to create programming and user experiences not seen before in a streaming platform. HBO’s world-class programming leads the way, the quality of which will be the guiding principle for our new array of Max Originals, our exciting acquisitions, and the very best of the Warner Bros. libraries, starting with the phenomenon that is ‘Friends,'” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer.
“Under the leadership of two of the strongest creative visionaries — Casey Bloys (HBO) and Kevin Reilly (original content and acquisitions) — and two of the most experienced digital experts — Tony Goncalves and Andy Forssell — I have no doubt they and their dedicated teams will deliver the world’s best storytelling to audiences of all ages wherever and whenever they want it.”
The Max Originals include several major franchises and an incredible list of talent. “Dune: The Sisterhood,” is an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s book Dune, and from director Denis Villeneuve. “Tokyo Vice” is based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat starring Ansel Elgort. “The Flight Attendant” is a one-hour thriller series based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian, which will star Kaley Cuoco, who is also executive producing alongside Greg Berlanti. “Love Life” is a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring “Pitch Perfect” star Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig.
Kendrick talked about the new series in the announcement adding, “WarnerMedia has three things going for it with this new streaming service. One, they have an incredible history and legacy of storytelling. Two, they’re super future-focused and trying to be the best. And three, they’re letting people like me embarrass myself episode after episode until I find love. I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this family.”
“I have been part of the Warner Bros. Television family for over 12 years” explained Cuoco. “I treasure my time on ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ and I am thrilled that our relationship continues to flourish in my new role as a producer on ‘The Flight Attendant.’ When I read the book more than a year-and-a-half ago, I was instantly obsessed with it — and with the idea of bringing it to the screen. I could not be happier to collaborate with the team at HBO Max to make this dream a reality. WarnerMedia has a long history of supporting storytellers and empowering them to fulfill their greatest potential. I am proud to be working with them on this series and cannot wait for viewers to have the opportunity to see it.”
“Station Eleven” is a post-apocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somerville and directed by Hiro Murai. “Made for Love” is a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, and directed by S.J. Clarkson. As we reported earlier this week, “Gremlins” is an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie.
The company also outlined the 2020 and 2021 schedule, which has even more stars on the roster. Stephen King’s “The Outsider” is a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, and produced and directed by Jason Bateman. “Lovecraft Country” is a horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, and written and executive produced by Misha Green. The series is executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams. “The Nevers” is Joss Whedon’s new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly, and “The Gilded Age” takes place in the opulent world of 1885 New York from “Downton Abbey’s” Julian Fellowes. “Avenue 5” is a satire aboard a space-bound cruise ship from Armando Iannucci (“Veep”), and the show stars Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad. “The Undoing” is a psychological thriller from David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier and starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant.
“It’s the dream of every artist to create art that inspires and even changes people” Kidman said in a statement. “I’ve had a glorious experience doing ‘Big Little Lies’ on HBO and I’m so happy to also be developing a brand-new original drama series for HBO Max. This bigger platform will enable even more people to see the work that I and so many of my friends have poured our hearts into creating.”
“The Plot Against America” is a reimagined history based on Phillip Roth’s novel written and executive produced by David Simon and Ed Burns, and starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro. “Perry Mason” is a re-imagining of the classic legal drama for a new generation, which is executive produced by Robert Downey, Jr. and Susan Downey, with Matthew Rhys in the title role. “I Know This Much Is True” is a complex family drama starring Mark Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one of whom has schizophrenia, based on the best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, and written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.
“Game of Thrones” writer George R.R. Martin also commented on the service, saying “Back in 1991, after a decade in television, I began writing a series of novels that I knew would never be filmed. A Game of Thrones and its sequels were too big, too complex, too dark, too sexy, with a cast of thousands, gigantic battles, massive castles, direwolves, ice wights, and dragons. Too sprawling for a feature film, too expensive for television. I should have remembered, ‘It’s not television, it’s HBO.’ Working with HBO during the past decade has been a dream come true.” Martin continued, “What they did could not be done, but they did it anyway. And now they are embarked on a new venture. No, they won’t be tying their shows to the legs of ravens as I suggested… instead they are launching an exciting new streaming platform that will carry all the great HBO programming around the world… classic old shows and thrilling new shows, including (I hope) a return to my world of Westeros. Sign me up!”
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