WarnerMedia is moving into the already-crowded streaming service market next year with HBO Max. The new streaming platform will combine titles from across the Warner Bros. film and TV library as well as introduce original films and series, but it will have to compete with established services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, as well as CBS All Access, Disney+, Apple TV+, and NBCUniversal's Peacock.
So, how will HBO Max set itself apart? Let's take a look at everything we know so far about this upcoming service.
HBO Max arrives in May 2020. WarnerMedia has not yet announced an exact release date, but the service is slated to debut in May.
It will cost $14.99 per month. That means an HBO Max subscription will cost quite a bit more per month than competitors Disney+ ($6.99), Apple TV+ ($4.99), and Netflix ($12.99).
AT&T customers with HBO subscriptions won't have to pay extra. AT&T is offering HBO Max at no additional charge to the roughly 10 million HBO subscribers already on its distribution platforms. Meanwhile, HBO Now users who subscribe directly to HBO through HBONow.com will also have access to the service. WarnerMedia is in discussions with distributors like Roku to make sure customers on third-party services get HBO Max, too, so updates on that are to come.
There is an option to bundle. AT&T customers on premium video, mobile, and broadband services will be offered bundles with HBO Max included at no additional charge.
What happens to DC Universe customers: HBO Max boss Kevin Reilly announced at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January 2020 that the exact partnership between HBO Max and DC Universe is still being worked out, but he hopes the services will "work in tandem." Reilly added, "We're hoping to honor the fans. In the managing all of that with DC, that's a very important part of the equation."
It won't put out as much original content as some competitors. In a presentation for investors on Oct. 29, 2019, WarnerMedia Entertainment chair Robert Greenblatt said that HBO Max wasn't focused on "the number of times at bat," but rather on "hitting a home run every time." That might mean a smaller roster of titles than, say, competing streamer Netflix. "We actually think the value proposition improves when we narrow the options, removing much of the filler no one watches anyway," Greenblatt said.
New shows will release episodes weekly. Instead of releasing entire seasons at once, à la Netflix, HBO Max will roll out new episodes weekly. Old seasons will be available to binge, though.
HBO Max will make 50 original titles available by 2021. HBO Max's original titles — 38 in 2020, with an additional 12 being added for 2021-- are aimed mainly at three demographics: children and families, millennials and Gen Z, and adult women. The streamer will release between five and 10 new originals per year after that.
A ton of exclusive new shows are being created for the service. HBO Max will have all-new scripted and unscripted offerings. Highlights include Tokyo Vice, which stars Ansel Elgort as an American journalist who tries to sniff out corruption in the eponymous police department, with Miami Vice's Michael Mann directing the pilot; a Gossip Girl sequel series (featuring the return of Kristen Bell) following a new generation of Upper East Siders grappling with the social landscape of New York private school life; a Grease musical series called Grease: Rydell High; Ridley Scott's sci-fi series Raised by Wolves; Maniac creator Patrick Somerville is adapting the 2014 sci-fi novel Station Eleven, featuring Gael Garciá Bernal and directed by Hiro Murai; and two DC series from Arrowverse creator Greg Berlanti: a Green Lantern series and Strange Adventures, a superhero anthology series. Here's a complete list of the original shows HBO Max is making.
The streaming service will also be the exclusive home of Russell T. Davies' newest project, Boys. The five-part series follows the emotional journey of five friends during the 1980s, a decade shaped by change, most notably with the rise of AIDS. The cast includes Stephen Fry, Neil Patrick Harris, Keeley Hawes, and more.
Deadline reports that Julie Plec, the mastermind behind The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and Legacies on The CW, is adapting a popular YA novel, The Beach by Melissa de la Cruz, into a potential new series for HBO Max. The show will follow three local teens who work in the Hamptons' during the summer, aka high season for the rich and fabulous. Though these three work as "the help" at lavish estates, exclusive beach clubs, and opulent yachts their lives and hearts become increasingly entangled with the wealthy families who swoop in from the city for summer.
Also in the works is DMZ. Though the project is still in the pilot phase, the potential comic book-based series from Ava DuVernay has landed Rosario Dawson as the lead, according to Deadline. Dawson will play a medic named Alma Ortego who attempts to save lives while searching for her missing son in a near future in which America is engaged in a civil war that has left Manhattan a demilitarized zone.
At the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January 2020, the HBO Max executive team announced a few more new additions to the originals catalog. The streaming service has inked a three-year overall deal with Steven Soderbergh. HBO Max also picked up Aquaman, King of Atlantis, a three-part animated miniseries from James Wan; an unscripted series titled The Event from Wolfgang Puck; and a climate change scripted anthology series, The Uninhabitable Earth, from Adam McKay.
Deadline reports Royals-obsessed viewers will get a treat with a new animated series called The Prince from Family Guy producer Gary Janetti, which will be a satirical look at the current royal Windsors as told through the eyes of young Prince George.
It's venturing into the comedy game too. HBO Max will expand its original slate through the addition of stand-up specials from Tracy Morgan (The Last O.G.); John Early (Search Party); Rose Matafeo, an Edinburgh Comedy Award winner; and Ahir Shah, a double Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee. The streaming service has also partnered with Conan O'Brien and Team Coco to bring additional specials to its library. O'Brien will host two specials that feature short sets from up-and-coming comics while curating hour-long sets from three comedians. In addition to those five specials, HBO Max has also purchased the rights to a one-hour special from James Veitch.
Some existing shows are on the move. Search Party is moving from TBS to HBO Max for its upcoming third season, which will be available upon the platform's launch (as will the first two seasons). The streaming service has already picked up the show for Season 4. Adventure Time is being revived for HBO Max as well with four hour-long specials.
Additionally, Sesame Street is moving from HBO to HBO Max beginning with Season 51. The deal includes five new seasons of Sesame Street, a number of new spin-offs and specials, and the show's entire 50-year library. New episodes will continue to air on PBS Kids after premiering on HBO Max.
With the end of AT&T's Audience Network, three shows may potentially move to HBO Max. Audience Network series Mr. Mercedes, Condor, and Loudermilk, have all been left in limbo as the streamer closes its doors, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, they could live on with HBO Max.
New, star-studded films are also on the way. HBO Max is expected to bring some new films from Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon to the service. It has acquired the rights Steven Soderbergh's Let Them All Talk, starring Meryl Streep as an author who goes on a journey with old friends. And Gina Rodriguez is set to star as a headstrong young lawyer in new HBO Max movie Bobbie Sue. Head here for a complete list of HBO Max's upcoming original movies.
HBO Max will feature a vast library of existing shows and movies. The new streaming service will feature titles from across Warner's properties, including Warner Bros., HBO, New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, TruTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes, and more.
The movie slate is impressive. Films set to hit the platform throughout 2020 include When Harry Met Sally, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Wonder Woman, Joker, Casablanca, and the complete Studio Ghibli collection.
Your old TV favorites have a new home. This library will include the exclusive streaming rights to all 10 seasons of Friends, which leaves Netflix in the new year, as well as The West Wing, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Pretty Little Liars. WarnerMedia will also be the first streaming home for all 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory. The service is reportedly pursuing the addition of fellow Chuck Lorre comedy Two and a Half Men to its list of offerings as well.
Fans can also stream full seasons of ongoing shows. New CW series like Batwoman, Nancy Drew, and the Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene will stream on HBO Max after each season concludes. HBO Max will also boast the exclusive streaming rights to the BBC's Doctor Who (though not the classic series that aired from 1963-1989), Top Gear, and Luther starting next year. And South Park and Rick and Morty, which are currently streaming on Hulu, will be moving to HBO Max once it launches.
HBO's new content will be a major feature. Count on seeing some of your HBO favorites available on the streaming service, including upcoming new shows that will also be available to HBO subscribers, like Stephen King's The Outsider, Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams' horror series Lovecraft Country, Joss Whedon's The Nevers, Julian Fellowes' The Gilded Age, David E. Kelley's The Undoing, and Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.
Sports might become a fixture ... eventually. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson revealed over the summer that HBO Max might eventually get into the live sports business, with an eye on NBA, MLB, and soccer games.
Cinemax content will not join HBO Max: Despite sharing half a name, HBO sibling network Cinemax will not be joining the HBO Max party. Reilly and Michael Quigley (executive vice president of content acquisitions for TNT, TBS, truTV, HBO, and HBO Max) confirmed in January 2020 that Cinemax legacy shows like Banshee and Strike Back will not be coming to the new streaming service.
HBO Max will arrive in May 2020.
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