Warner Bros. Discovery today introduced Max, its enhanced streaming service, which will launch in the U.S. on May 23. Max is the destination for HBO Originals, Warner Bros. films, Max Originals, the DC universe, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, kids content, and programing across food, home, reality, lifestyle and documentaries from brands like HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, TLC, ID and more.
The event included the below sneak peek at the launch campaign for Max, which kicks off tomorrow and celebrates the different moods, fandoms and genres that represent Max viewers. The campaign will invite new subscribers to experience Max’s improved product experience and expanded content for everyone in the household.
“From the biggest superheroes to real life champions; from culture-shaping dramas to taste-shaping entertainment; from fantastical realms to the realest of worlds, Max will offer an unrivaled range of choice,” said JB Perrette, President & CEO, Global Streaming & Games, Warner Bros. Discovery.
“This new brand signals an important change from two narrower products, HBO Max and discovery+, to our broader content offering and consumer proposition. While each product offered something for some people, Max will have a broad array of quality choices for everybody.”
MAX PRICING OPTIONS
The new service will offer three pricing options, giving subscribers the choice to select which plan best fits the needs of their household.
Max Ad-Lite | $9.99/month or $99.99/year
2 concurrent streams, 1080p resolution, no offline downloads, 5.1 surround sound quality
Max Ad Free | $15.99/month or $149.99/year
2 concurrent streams, 1080 resolution, 30 offline downloads, 5.1 surround sound quality
Max Ultimate Ad Free | $19.99/month or $199.99/year
4 concurrent streams, up to 4K UHD resolution, 100 offline downloads, Dolby Atmos sound quality
Max will bring HBO Max’s programming and Discovery+’s real-life entertainment content together to create a complete viewing experience for all ages. The service will feature a regular freshness of content with an average of more than 40 new titles and seasons every month.
With a library of iconic favorites, Max will offer a world-class collection of globally recognized brands, franchises, series, and characters, making it a truly unprecedented offering. Audiences will be able to explore the iconic worlds of HBO, the DC Universe, and Harry Potter, plus hit movies, original series, and fan-favorite genres like true crime, reality, food, and comedy, all in one place.
“The Max service is a wide-ranging mosaic of content that will be unmatched in the breadth, reach, and excellence of its offerings,” said Casey Bloys, Chairman and CEO, HBO and Max Content.
“We are unique because we have the best-in-all-categories across the board by any measure – be they ratings, awards, fandom. We know we can satisfy any craving because we have the brands that people love. At Max, they will find what they want, when they want it.”
Newly-announced titles (learn more about each and watch trailers below!) include a Max Original Harry Potter series, a faithful adaptation of the beloved original book series by J.K. Rowling, who will serve as executive producer; a Max Original comedy series derived from The Big Bang Theory; and HBO Original Game of Thrones prequel A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight.
There’s also a Max Original drama series based on The Conjuring films; Magnolia Network’s Fixer Upper: The Hotel; Discovery Channel’s Survive the Raft; Max Original Peter & the Wolf from Bono; Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty: The Anime; Investigation Discovery’s Lost Women of Highway 20; Cartoon Network’s Tiny Toons Looniversity; and TLC’s Love & Translation.
Max also provided first looks today at additional highly-anticipated upcoming titles including Max Originals The Penguin starring Colin Farrell; HBO Original drama series The Sympathizer, an espionage thriller and cross-culture satire based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name; HBO Original limited series and True Detective: Night Country starring Jodie Foster and Kali Reis.
The list continues with HBO Original limited series The Regime starring Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet; Max Original six-part docuseries SmartLess: On the Road, following Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes as they take viewers on an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the sold-out live tour of their podcast; and Max Original kids series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.
In addition to Max original programming, a first look at HGTV’s four-part Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge hosted by Ashley Graham, which will also be available to stream on Max, was shown during the presentation.
Max will bring all of this content into one seamless user experience that invites every member of the family to find great entertainment. “Our incredible team has been hard at work taking the best of both legacy technology platforms to deliver a product that works much better,” said Perrette. “We’re confident that all these enhancements will deliver a stronger experience for our customers, which will drive more engagement, help enhance retention, and improve customer satisfaction, which in turn will help us continue to scale.”
Max has released first look footage and an image from The Penguin, from Warner Bros. Television and DC Studios. Starring Colin Farrell as The Penguin, the eight-episode DC Studios drama series continues The Batman epic crime saga that filmmaker Matt Reeves began with Warner Bros. Pictures’ global blockbuster The Batman, and centers on the character played by Farrell in the film.
The previously-announced cast includes Colin Farrell, Cristin Milioti, Rhenzy Feliz, Michael Kelly, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Deirdre O’Connell, with Clancy Brown and Michael Zegen recurring.
The series is executive produced by Matt Reeves, Dylan Clark, Colin Farrell, Lauren LeFranc, who writes and serves as showrunner, Craig Zobel, who directs the first three episodes, and Bill Carraro.
Based on characters created for DC by Bob Kane with Bill Finger, The Penguin is produced by Reeves’ 6th & Idaho Productions and Dylan Clark Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, where Reeves and 6th & Idaho are under an overall deal. 6th & Idaho’s Daniel Pipski also serves as executive producer and Rafi Crohn is co-executive producer.
THE BIG BANG THEORY PROJECT
Max and executive producer Chuck Lorre are developing a new comedy series derived from The Big Bang Theory. The project is in the works at Warner Bros. Television, where Lorre is under an overall deal.
Plot details are currently under wraps. Lorre will executive produce via Chuck Lorre Productions. The new show would be the second collaboration between Max, Lorre, and WBTV. Lorre and Nick Bakay are currently in production on the new Max Original comedy series How to Be a Bookie, starring Sebastian Maniscalco.
This would mark the second series derived from the world of The Big Bang Theory, following the prequel Young Sheldon, which begins with Iain Armitage starring as The Big Bang Theory character Sheldon Cooper as a nine-year-old, living with his family in East Texas and going to high school.
Young Sheldon is in its sixth season on CBS and ranks as the #1 comedy on TV among Total Viewers. All episodes of The Big Bang Theory and the first five seasons of Young Sheldon are available to stream on Max in the U.S.
SMARTLESS: ON THE ROAD
Max has released the first official trailer for Max Original Smartless: On the Road, debuting Tuesday, May 23, following Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes during the North American tour of their hit podcast.
Directed by Sam Jones (Jason Isbell: Running With Our Eyes Closed, Off Camera with Sam Jones), the six-part docuseries provides fly-on-the-wall, intimate access of the three friends and beloved actors as they travel through Boston, Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Madison, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles, giving viewers a sneak peek into the minds, conversations, and bonds behind one of the country’s most popular podcasts.
Hop on the road with Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes as they take us on an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the sold-out live tour of their wildly successful podcast, “SmartLess.” Traveling from city to city all over the country, the trio is joined by celebrities such as Conan O’Brien, Will Ferrell, Matt Damon, Jimmy Kimmel, Kevin Hart, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, David Letterman, and other surprise guests.
In each episode of SmartLess, one of the hosts reveals his mystery guest to the other two. What ensues is a genuinely improvised and authentic conversation filled with laughter and newfound knowledge to feed the SmartLess mind. The passion project of three friends has turned into a wildly successful podcast, named one of the Best Shows of 2020 by Apple as well as consistently ranking Top 5 Comedy Shows and Top 10 on overall shows on iTunes. SmartLess is produced by Michael Grant Terry, Bennett Barbakow, and Rob Amjärv.
THE CONJURING UNIVERSE SERIES
Max is currently developing a drama series based on the films in New Line Cinema’s The Conjuring Universe. The Conjuring producer Peter Safran will serve as an executive producer on the project, which is in development at Warner Bros. Television. Filmmaker James Wan is in talks to executive produce.
Based on the films produced by New Line Cinema and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, The Conjuring television series will continue the story established in the feature films. Wan’s Atomic Monster Productions and Safran’s The Safran Company will produce in association with Warner Bros. Television, where The Safran Company is under an overall deal.
FIXER UPPER: THE HOTEL
Magnolia Network today announced an all-new installment in the beloved Fixer Upper franchise, Fixer Upper: The Hotel, to premiere this November. The forthcoming series documents Chip and Joanna Gaines’s most ambitious project to date – renovating a historic building in downtown Waco to open Hotel 1928, a new boutique hotel just a few blocks from Magnolia Market at the Silos.
“For us, this project represents everything we are most passionate about — hospitality, restoration and home,” said Chip and Joanna Gaines. “We’ve always been firm believers in the value of home, as a place but also as a feeling. Our dream for this hotel is that it would serve as an extension of home to every guest who comes to stay.”
For this one-of-a-kind project, Chip and Jo will bring the former Grand Karem Shrine building back to life and turn it into the premiere hotel destination in Waco complete with four floors of 33 bespoke guest rooms, a restaurant, ballroom event space and a rooftop terrace. Produced by the Gaineses’ production company Blind Nil, the six-episode, half-hour series culminates in the grand opening of the new hotel.
“Fans have been visiting Waco for years, but soon they will be able to do more than see a Fixer Upper – they can stay in one overnight!” said Allison Page, Global President of Magnolia Network and DTC. “With Fixer Upper: The Hotel, we’re pulling back the curtain on one of the biggest projects Chip and Jo have ever undertaken and giving viewers a first look at a unique and storied space that will help define downtown Waco for years to come.”
LOVE & TRANSLATION
Embarking on an exciting adventure to find love, three American men and twelve international women are traveling from across the world to live on a remote paradise island together in TLC’s newest relationship series, Love & Translation. And here’s the twist: none of the women speak English and none of the men speak other languages.
Without being able to speak to one another and without the use of translators, the singles need to count on their senses to help develop their connection and determine the power of their chemistry and attraction.
Based on what they learn about each other, the men will take the women on dates and find out how love translates when the same language isn’t spoken – will they find true love or just a hot romance? Love & Translation will premiere this coming winter on TLC.
Love & Translation is produced by Sharp Entertainment, a part of Sony Pictures Television, for TLC.
SURVIVE THE RAFT
Discovery Channel has greenlit Survive the Raft, a series that explores what happens when strangers from all walks of life come together to live and work at sea. The nine-episode social experiment was inspired by Mexican anthropologist Santiago Genovés’ 1973 behavioral study that observed whether humans from diverse cultures and backgrounds could set aside their differences and work together during a 101-day voyage on the Acali.
Now, fifty years later, Discovery Channel revisits his groundbreaking work with a new raft and a new twist on the original mission. Hosted by United States Army Green Beret, NFL football player and actor, Nate Boyer, the series is slated to premiere in July on Discovery Channel and Max.
Produced near Panama’s Pearl Islands, Survive the Raft follows nine diverse contestants who set sail on the Acali II for twenty-one days to test whether personal interest will sabotage the team’s chance to win a fortune together. The stakes are high: with each successful mission, the team earns money towards a communal cash pot that will be divided equally by those who make it to the end.
Every week, participants are tasked with completing physical and intellectual challenges designed to disrupt and divide the group. At the end of each episode, the crew of the Acali II are given the option to continue as a group, or swap one of their own for a new participant. Will the good for all outweigh the good for one?
BARBIE DREAMHOUSE CHALLENGE
One of the world’s most iconic toys will become reality when HGTV taps into the zeitgeist of Mattel’s Barbie’ in its new competition series, Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge, set to premiere on HGTV and stream on Max this summer.
Inspired by the singular, enduring popularity of the global icon herself and by the excitement surrounding the upcoming release of the Warner Bros. Pictures film, Barbie, HGTV will harness the unmatched power of its corporate siblings to support four nostalgia-filled episodes and execute Barbie-themed cross-network content and promotions.
Punctuated by celebrity guests, pop culture history and a plethora of Barbie surprises, Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge will be hosted by supermodel, designer, author and entrepreneur Ashley Graham and feature eight teams of HGTV superstars as they transform a Southern California home into a real-life Barbie Dreamhouse. In the end, one passionate Barbie fan will get the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime stay in a home created for dreamers.
During the series, 15 talented HGTV home design and renovation experts and one celebrated Food Network chef will participate in the creation of Barbie’s Dreamhouse, including: Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson; Jasmine Roth and Antonia Lofaso; Ty Pennington and Alison Victoria; Jonathan Knight and Kristina Crestin; Christina Hall and James Bender; Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas; Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt; and Michel Smith Boyd and Anthony Elle Williams.
Teams will overhaul areas of the home with an era-specific style, such as an early 1960s atomic age kitchen, a ‘70s disco vibe for Ken’s Den and a main bedroom decked out in ‘80s glam. Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge is produced by Mission Control and Mattel Television.
PETER & THE WOLF
Max and Cartoon Network have greenlit an animated rendition of the beloved classic tale Peter & the Wolf, featuring music and narration by Gavin Friday, and artwork based on original illustrations by Bono. The special transforms Sergei Prokofiev’s much-loved symphony into an enchanting and contemporary visual masterpiece that touches on themes of growing up, loss, courage, transformation, and our relationship with nature. The animated short film is scheduled to premiere later this year and is part of an ongoing relationship with Irish Hospice Foundation.
The uniquely creative project is led by musician and composer Gavin Friday and saw him narrate the reimagined classic tale with The Friday Seezer Ensemble performing Prokofiev score, newly arranged by Maurice Seezer and Gavin Friday.
The artwork seen throughout the film is based on original illustrations by Gavin Friday’s longtime friend and collaborator, Bono, from his book of the same name.
Featuring a special juxtaposition of traditional hand-drawn 2D animation combined with a physical set-built world, this reimagined classic tale follows a grieving 12-year-old Peter who is now in the care of his grandfather after enduring the loss of a parent. Upon hearing stories of a wolf on the loose, Peter decides to explore the vast meadow and forest nearby to try and find the wolf himself. Along the way he encounters creatures who help him on his quest while contending with hunters aiming to win a prize for capturing the wolf.
“The messaging of vigilance, bravery, and resilience that were core to the original symphony are still echoed throughout our interpretation, but we spin a traditional fairy tale into a unique adaptation that also incorporates the topic of loss, redemption, and recovery,” said Gavin Friday and Bono. “It’s our hope that this ‘Peter & the Wolf’ becomes a balm for any child dealing with loss, alongside exposing and captivating them into the wonderful and musical world of Prokofiev.”
The project was originally developed in 2003 by Gavin Friday and Bono in support of Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF), a national charity supporting those facing dying, death and bereavement. IHF began with the aim to extend availability of hospice services across the country and has now grown to develop programs in education, research and bereavement services. The Peter & the Wolf team have worked closely with Irish Hospice Foundation on this project, with IHF advising on how best to represent the story’s sensitive themes of bereavement and loss with authenticity and thoughtfulness.
When we meet Peter, he’s an angsty adolescent, but over the course of the story, a lighthearted side emerges along with his resourcefulness and determination to uncover a thoughtful and very human side of him. Each character in this telling of Peter & the Wolf represents different aspects of Peter, with the Wolf embodying his relationship with grief and the unknown, his grandfather representing his connection to family and the forest creatures who capture the comedy, naivete and carefree elements of childhood.
“The emotion and artistry that Gavin has created in this modern retelling of ‘Peter & the Wolf’ brings a sense of fearlessness and style this story has never seen before,” said Michael Ouweleen, president, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Discovery Family, and Boomerang. “We think this slightly punk rock version of the timeless classic fuses beautifully for every audience, and we are honored that Bono and Gavin have entrusted us as the home to share such a personal journey.”
To reflect the unique nature of the project Blink Industries developed a mixed media approach to the production of Peter & the Wolf that embraced the 2D roots of Bono’s original designs while creating a tangible, immersive and atmospheric world for Peter and his cohorts. The monochromatic rendering of the film adds to the timeless quality of the piece.
Working with their extensive team of model makers, directors Stephen McNally and Elliot Dear built and filmed all the environments as miniatures in their studio in London before seamlessly compositing the 2D hand-drawn character animation into the world. An ingenious interplay of the 2D drawings with light and shade from the physical world blends the interaction between animated characters and model made environments.
The alchemy of the magic and nostalgia of 2D animation and the tactility and warmth of the physical sets creates a film that feels utterly unlike anything else.
Peter & the Wolf is produced by BMG and Blink Industries and executive produced by Alistair Norbury & Stuart Souter for BMG, Benjamin Lole & James Stevenson Bretton at Blink Industries. Blink Industries’ Elliot Dear and Stephen McNally are Directors, and the producer is Adriana Piasek-Wanski.
GREMLINS: SECRETS OF THE MOGWAI
Escape into a world of magic and mythology when Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai premieres Tuesday, May 23 on Max. Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai takes viewers back to 1920s Shanghai where the Wing family first meets the young Mogwai called Gizmo. Sam Wing (future shop owner Mr. Wing in the 1984 “Gremlins” film) accepts the dangerous task to take Gizmo home and embarks on a journey through the Chinese countryside.
Sam and Gizmo are joined by a teenage street thief named Elle, and together, they encounter—and sometimes battle—colorful monsters and spirits from Chinese folklore. Along their quest, they are pursued by a power-hungry industrialist and his growing army of evil Gremlins.
The all-star voice cast includes Ming-Na Wen, James Hong, BD Wong, Matthew Rhys, Izaac Wang, AJ LoCascio, Gabrielle Nevaeh Green. The series will also feature notable guest stars including Zach Galligan who starred as the hero “Billy Peltzer” in Amblin’s original Gremlins films. Additional guest voices include Sandra Oh, Randall Park, George Takei, and Bowen Yang.
Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai is produced by Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros. Animation. Steven Spielberg serves as executive producer, along with Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, Presidents of Amblin Television, and Sam Register, President, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios.
Tze Chun serves as showrunner and executive producer. Brendan Hay serves as executive producer with Dan Krall serving as Supervising Producer. Joe Dante serves as consulting producer.
TRUE DETECTIVE: NIGHT COUNTRY
HBO has released the official teaser for the original drama series True Detective: Night Country, starring Jodie Foster, Kali Reis, Fiona Shaw, Finn Bennett, Isabella Star Lablanc, Aka Niviâna, Anna Lambe, and Joel D. Montgrand with Christopher Eccleston, and John Hawkes. Issa López serves as showrunner and writer and directs all episodes.
When the long winter night falls in Ennis, Alaska, the eight men who operate the Tsalal Arctic Research Station vanish without a trace. To solve the case, Detectives Liz Danvers (Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Reis) will have to confront the darkness they carry in themselves, and dig into the haunted truths that lie buried under the eternal ice.
HBO has released the official teaser for the limited series The Regime (formerly known by its working title “The Palace”), starring Academy Award winner Kate Winslet, directed by Stephen Frears and Jessica Hobbs, and written by Will Tracy.
The Regime tells the story of one year within the walls of the palace of a modern European regime as it begins to unravel.
Joining the previously-announced cast of Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Guillaume Gallienne, Andrea Riseborough, Martha Plimpton and Hugh Grant, the newly-announced cast members include Danny Webb, David Bamber, Henry Goodman, Stanley Townsend, Louie Mynett, Rory Keenan, Karl Markovics, and Pippa Haywood.
Will Tracy serves as writer, executive producer, and showrunner. The executive producers are Winslet, Frears, Frank Rich, and Tracey Seaward. Hobbs serves as co-executive producer and writers are Seth Reiss, Juli Weiner, Jen Spyra, Gary Shteyngart, and Sarah DeLappe.
HBO has released the official teaser and a new photo for the original limited series The Sympathizer. Park Chan-wook and Don McKellar co-showrun and executive produce.
The new footage introduces the cast led by Hoa Xuande, Fred Nguyen Khan, Toan Le, Ky Duyen, and Sandra Oh and reveals star and executive producer Robert Downey Jr., who plays multiple roles.
Based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, The Sympathizer is an espionage thriller and cross-culture satire about the struggles of a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist spy during the final days of the Vietnam War and his resulting exile in the United States.
The cast includes Hoa Xuande, Fred Nguyen Khan, Toan Le, Vy Le, Alan Trong, Vy Le, Ky Duyen, with Sandra Oh, and Robert Downey Jr.
A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS: THE HEDGE KNIGHT
HBO has given a series order to drama series A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight. The Game of Thrones prequel series will be written and executive produced by George R.R. Martin and Ira Parker. Ryan Condal and Vince Gerardis will also executive produce.
A century before the events of Game of Thrones, two unlikely heroes wandered Westeros… a young, naïve but courageous knight, Ser Duncan the Tall, and his diminutive squire, Egg.
Set in an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living memory, great destinies, powerful foes, and dangerous exploits all await these improbable and incomparable friends.
George R.R. Martin will serve as writer/executive producer, Ira Parker will serve as writer/executive producer. Ryan Condal and Vince Gerardis will serve as executive producers.
HARRY POTTER TELEVISION SERIES
Max has ordered an original Harry Potter scripted television series. The series will be a faithful adaptation of the beloved book series by author and executive producer, J.K. Rowling. From Warner Bros. Television, the new Max Original series will be available on Max in (US) and globally once produced.
The stories from each of Rowling’s Harry Potter books will become a decade-long series produced with the same epic craft, love and care this global franchise is known for. The series will feature a new cast to lead a new generation of fandom, full of the fantastic detail, much loved characters and dramatic locations that Harry Potter fans have loved for over twenty-five years.
Each season will be authentic to the original books and bring Harry Potter and these incredible adventures to new audiences around the world, while the original, classic and beloved films will remain at the core of the franchise and available to watch globally.
“We are delighted to give audiences the opportunity to discover Hogwarts in a whole new way,” said Casey Bloys, Chairman and CEO, HBO & Max Content. “Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon and it is clear there is such an enduring love and thirst for the Wizarding World. In partnership with Warner Bros. Television and J.K. Rowling, this new Max Original series will dive deep into each of the iconic books that fans have continued to enjoy for all of these years.”
“Max’s commitment to preserving the integrity of my books is important to me, and I’m looking forward to being part of this new adaptation which will allow for a degree of depth and detail only afforded by a long form television series,” said J.K. Rowling.