WarnerMedia July 9 unveiled HBO Max as the name of its new subscription streaming service launching in 2020.
The service will be anchored by HBO and will be “Maximized” with an extensive collection of exclusive original programming (Max Originals) and the best-of-the-best from WarnerMedia’s portfolio of brands and content libraries.
New deals with Warner Bros. Television and others for HBO Max announced include exclusive streaming rights at launch to all 236 episodes of Friends — one of the biggest hits on television and in streaming (currently on Netflix) – as well as the exclusive streaming rights to every episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Pretty Little Liars.
The new service will also be home to a string of new Warner Bros.’ produced dramas for The CW beginning with the fall 2019 season, including new DC Entertainment series Batwoman and Katy Keene (a spinoff of Riverdale).
There are also new exclusive movie production deals with Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon. 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, scheduled to launch commercially in spring of 2020, is anticipated to premiere with 10,000 hours of premium content. A fair bit of it is science fiction or fantasy, so it’s of special interest to fans of SCIFI.radio.
Max Original series previously announced include:
- 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 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 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, 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, an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie.
Highlights of HBO programming previously announced for 2020 and 2021 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, about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world. (We’re looking forward to this one, as Joss Whedon has said it’s his most ambitious project ever.)
- 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 Ed Burns, 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.
And of course, George R. R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones, has already found great success with them.
“Back in 1991, after a decade in television, I began writing a series of novels that I knew would never be filmed,” said Martin. He thought his show was too big, too complex, too dark, too sexy, with a cast of thousands, gigantic battle and massive castles for a feature film and too expensive for television.
“I should have remembered, ‘It’s not television, it’s HBO,’” Martin said. “Working with HBO during the past decade has been a dream come true. What they did could not be done, but they did it anyway. And now they are embarked on a new venture.”
The director hinted he hopes the platform will help him return to “my world of Westeros.”