It’s official. Though it was rumored last week, it has now been announced that WarnerMedia‘s upcoming streaming service will bear the title HBO Max, due to the inclusion of both HBO and Cinemax. As previously reported, those already subscribed to HBO and/or Cinemax through their regular cable or satellite packages will gain free access to HBO Max when it launches. Additionally, HBO Max will offer programming from TBS, TNT, TRUTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and CNN.
A beta version will roll out by the end of this year, with the full version available in 2020.
WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer chairman, Robert Greenblatt announced:
“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.”
As anticipated, certain streaming hits from other services will be pulled for this one, most notably ‘Friends’. Last year, Netflix paid $80-$100 million to keep the NBC sitcom for one additional year after its prior contract had run out. There was a stipulation that they could then share the sitcom, but it looks as though Netflix has passed and HBO Max will be the exclusive home. That deal is said to be worth $425 million. (NBC Universal is launching its own streaming service and has already brokered a deal said to be worth $500 million for exclusive streaming rights to ‘The Office’, which happens to be the #1 show on Netflix.)
HBO Max will also exclusively be the streaming home to ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ and ‘Pretty Little Liars’.
As previously reported, The CW has also revised its deal with Netflix, which used to offer all of that network’s shows. ‘Batwoman’ and ‘Katy Keene’, two new series debuting in the fall, will go to HBO Max instead. ‘Katy Keene’ is a spinoff from ‘Riverdale’, so it’s odd that it won’t be offered on Netflix which hosts reruns of ‘Riverdale’ and its other kind-of spinoff ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’.
The CW’s Greg Berlanti, who serves as executive producer of both ‘Batwoman’ and ‘Katy Keene’ and most of the other shows on the network, signed a development deal with WarnerMedia and will now be crafting shows for this service. Also signed to an agreement is Reece Witherspoon and her Hello Sunshine production company, who will create at least two original movies for HBO Max.
The slate of original series for HBO Max will begin rolling out next year and includes:
- “Dune: The Sisterhood,” an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s book Dune, from director Denis Villeneuve
- “Tokyo Vice,” based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat starring Ansel Elgort
- “The Flight Attendant,” 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,” a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring “Pitch Perfect” star Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig
- “Station Eleven,” a postapocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somerville and directed by Hiro Murai
- “Made for Love,” a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, also from Somerville and directed by S.J. Clarkson
- “Gremlins: Secret of the Mogwai,” an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie
And since HBO programming will also be available on HBO Max, some highlights of its upcoming slate include:
- Stephen King’s “The Outsider,” a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman
- “Lovecraft Country,” a unique horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams
- “The Nevers,” Joss Whedon’s new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly
- “The Gilded Age,” the opulent world of 1885 New York from “Downton Abbey’s” Julian Fellowes
- “Avenue 5,” high satire aboard a space-bound cruise ship from Armando Iannucci (“Veep”), starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad
- “The Undoing,” a psychological thriller from David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant
- “The Plot Against America,” reimagined history based on Phillip Roth’s novel written and executive produced by David Simon and EdBurns, starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro
- “Perry Mason,” the classic legal drama for a new generation, executive produced by Robert Downey, Jr. and Susan Downey, with Matthew Rhys in the title role
- “I Know This Much Is True,” a complex family drama starring Mark Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one of whom has schizophrenia, based on the best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.
Not mentioned is HBO’s upcoming sequel to ‘Watchmen’, but that is also a highly-anticipated project.
HBO Max is expected to be a little on the pricey side– $16 to $17 per month– but with all of this programming, it may be worth the expense. Will you be signing up?