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WarnerMedia executives unveiled new details about HBO Max on Wednesday at the TCA 2020 Winter Press Tour, clarifying that all legacy and current HBO content will be available on the service alongside a dizzying array of television shows and films from the AT&T-owned company’s myriad brands.
WarnerMedia executives previously said HBO's full library would be available on HBO Max during the streaming service's initial reveal last October, but questions of current show access have dogged the service — which will co-exist alongside the similar-sounding HBO, HBO Now, and HBO Go — since then. HBO Max Chief Content Officer Kevin Riley, Head of Original Content Sarah Aubrey, and Executive Vice President of Content Acquisitions Michael Quigley took the stage to clear the air and discuss some of the shows that will be exclusive to the streaming service, which will have offer an option for subscribers to filter all non-HBO content.
HBO Max's specific May release date is still under wraps but Aubrey offered several hints on when several of its shows will premiere: Kaley Cuoco is currently shooting “Flight Attendant,” a thriller where flight attendant Cassandra Brown Cuoco wakes up next to a dead body in a Dubai hotel, and the series is expected to premiere in the summer. “Flight Attendant” is part of HBO Max's initial originals slate, which also includes Anna Kendrick's “Love Life” and Ridley Scott's “Raised by Wolves.”
The HBO Max executives noted that Greg Berlanti's “Green Lantern” series is still in its early stages, but teased that it would feature supervillain Sinestro and span several decades and focus on the origin stories of two Green Lanterns on Earth before bringing the story to space.
One project that has less certainty is the rumored “Friends” reunion special, which Riley said was a “maybe.” The original “Friends” series will be available on the service at launch. While the original “Friends” series will be there for you, the “Harry Potter” film franchise won't; WarnerMedia's 2016 deal with NBCUniversal to give the latter rights to the films is still in effect, though Riley implied that WarnerMedia would likely seek to bring the franchise to HBO Max in the future.
Though HBO Max will debut with 10,000 hours of content, its launch won't impact WarnerMedia's other services. HBO Now, HBO Go, Boomerang, and DC Universe will all continue operating, and Riley did not indicate that the former two platforms would be phased out in the future — even though all content from HBO Now and HBO Go will be available on HBO Max. An HBO Max subscription will cost $14.99 per month and a cheaper AVOD option will be introduced around a year after the streaming service...
Disney+ may benefit from further delays with the studio's theatrical releases as more movies may be going directly to the streaming service in the future. This, according to former Disney CEO and current Executive Chairman Bob Iger. It was recently revealed that Artemis Fowl will debut on Disney+ sometime this year, skipping a theatrical release. As Iger explains, that may not be the only title to make the move from theatrical to streaming, but don't expect to see it happen with the studio's upcoming tentpole releases.
Given what's going on in the world right now, most movie theaters are shut down entirely and virtually all major releases through June have been delayed. Some have wondered if Disney might put movies like Black Widow or Mulan on Disney+ instead. While that won't be happening, Bob Iger isn't ruling out other movies making the shift. Here's what Iger had to say about it in a recent interview.'There are some we've decided to put on Disney+. We already announced one, Artemis Fowl, that would have been released in theaters. Others we've simply delayed. In some cases we've moved things onto Disney+ faster than we would have. Frozen 2 was one of them, but Onward would be the biggest example. It was in theaters when this happened.' 'We moved to a pay-per-view period for a couple of weeks where people could buy it and own it. And then we ended up putting it on Disney+. In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis, there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we'll simply wait for slots. In some cases we've announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar.'
There is a lot to unpack here. Black Widow and several other delayed movies were recently given new release dates as Disney reshuffled its 2020/2021 calendar. Black Widow and other big-budget tentpoles stand to make far more money in theaters, even with a relatively uncertain future ahead, than they could possibly generate via streaming. So putting movies like them directly on Disney+ doesn't make that much business sense.
In the meantime, taking riskier projects such as Artemis Fowl and giving Disney+ subscribers something flashy and exclusive is helpful. But what other movies might fit the bill for streaming debuts? The New Mutants perhaps? Whatever the case, as Bob Iger points out, the studio is content to wait until things return to normal. Disney, more than any other studio in Hollywood, is capable of raking in big dollars at the box office. So this truly isn't that surprising.
Other studios, on the other hand, may see value in doing a VOD/Digital release. Universal kicked that door wide open a couple of weeks back by putting recent releases such as The Invisible Man and The Hunt online. Trolls: World Tour, which was destined for theaters, will arrive digitally this month. Disney has not yet set a premiere date for Artemis Fowl, but it's...