The next front in the streaming wars just opened, as WarnerMedia finally dropped the curtain on its long-discussed streaming service — one that’s coming home under an unexpectedly familiar name.
HBO Max will bring together more than 10,000 hours of content from HBO, Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, DC Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, TNT, TBS, CNN, Tru TV, and more. A promotional video was released to showcase just some of what viewers can expect from the lineup, which will be bolstered by Max Original series. While there’s a lot of information to absorb, we also have some questions.
The new service will become the exclusive streaming home for Friends, which means that Netflix will no longer be able to ask if “you’re still watching” the 236-episode library. At launch, full episodes of Pretty Little Liars and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will be available, and the service will also serve as the exclusive streaming home for new Warner Bros.-produced content for The CW. This includes the Riverdale spinoff, Katy Keene, and the forthcoming Arrowverse entry, Batwoman (pictured top).
Producer Greg Berlanti, producer of many hits ranging from Dawson’s Creek to Supergirl, inked an exclusive production deal with HBO Max to create an initial run of four movies geared toward young adults. Similarly, Academy Award-winner Reese Witherpoon’s Hello Sunshine is on board to produce at least two films for the service.
Several projects previously announced projects will come to HBO Max including the films Dune: The Sisterhood and Tokyo Vice, along with the Max Original series’ The Flight Attendant (starring Kaley Cuoco), Love Life (starring Anna Kendrick), Station Eleven, Made for Love, and the animated Gremlins prequel, Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.
All of these films and series will join previously-announced programming that HBO has in the pipeline through 2021, highlights from which include Stephen King’s The Outsider starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman; the horror series Lovecraft Country, based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams; Joss Whedon’s new sci-fi series, The Nevers; the space comedy Avenue 5, starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad; The Gilded Age from Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes; The Undoing from David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant; The Plot Against America starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro; a reimagined Perry Mason from executive producers Robert Downey, Jr. and Susan Downey; and I Know This Much Is True, which stars Mark Ruffalo in a dual role as twin brothers.
HBO Max will debut next spring, but there’s no word yet on what it will cost. Additionally, speculation has begun for the fate of other WarnerMedia streamers such as HBO Go and DC Universe, which had been rumored to be getting folded into the broader WarnerMedia service, which we now know to be HBO Max. Then there’s the name itself, which WarnerMedia is playing up the “Max” portion, bolding that content is “Maximized” on the platform, but with no mention of its original ‘max, Cinemax.
We’re several years into the streaming wars already, but the real battle is yet to be fought. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, HBO Max, and several others will be vying for wallets next year, not to mention that they’re still going up against cable and traditional TV.