HBO Max is aiming to carve out its own corner in the increasingly crowded streaming landscape.
In addition to original programming, WarnerMedia’s upcoming standalone service will arrive armed with a library of licensed TV shows and movies under a brand name that has come to be associated with top-notch storytelling — all in an effort to stand out against its competition, which includes established streamers such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and CBS All Access, as well as fellow new platforms Disney+ and AppleTV+.
Here’s everything we know about HBO Max so far.
WarnerMedia will charge $14.99 a month for HBO Max, which will debut in May. Two years in the making, HBO Max is being designed to go head to head with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+, which rolls out next month.
What is HBO Max?
WarnerMedia’s new ad-free subscription streaming service will launch on May 27. As HBO chief Casey Bloys put it during a media day for the streamer, “the HBO Max bundle” will bring together HBO and other Warner brands. An ad-supported version of HBO Max will be available in 2021.
How much is it?
HBO Max will cost $14.99 per month. Current HBO Now customers who have subscribed directly through HBONow.com will be able to access HBO Max for free. Those who have subscribed to HBO through AT&T’s TV platforms will also be offered HBO Max at no additional cost. AT&T will provide bundle pricing that includes HBO Max to their premium video, mobile and broadband customers.
As for those who access HBO through another cable provider or signed up via another platform? It’s complicated.
HBO Max will cost $14.99 a month. Some current HBO subscribers will be able to sign up for no extra cost. For others, it’s not so simple.
What does it include?
HBO Max will include all of HBO — both new programming and its entire library — as well as HBO Max originals (see below). In addition, it will feature library content from across the WarnerMedia family: Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth and more.
How can you watch it?
HBO Max will support personalized profiles as well as profiles designated for kids that lock content behind a parental PIN code. Shared home pages will also be available through the service for people who don’t want certain viewing choices to affect recommendations on their individual profiles. Subscribers will also be able to download programs for offline viewing and access recommendations from other users.
What can you watch on it?
HBO Max will launch with 10,000 hours of “curated premium content,” including original programming and licensed TV shows and movies. HBO Max original series will roll out weekly, though some titles may have multiple episodes available at launch, with a weekly release pattern thereafter.
What originals will be available at launch?
HBO Max was expected to premiere 50 original series within its first year of service, with 31 in 2020 alone, but the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic has derailed those plans. Instead, the service will launch with a thinner slate of HBO Max originals.
“Craftopia”: A kids crafting competition series where contestants race to fill up their carts then craft creations based on larger-than-life challenges.
“Legendary”: Eight houses will compete in this competitive voguing show with a different themed ball at the center of each episode. The panel of judges includes Jameela Jamil, Megan Thee Stallion, Law Roach and Leiomy Maldonado.
“Love Life”: A romantic comedy anthology series, starring Anna Kendrick, about the journey from first love to last love.
“Loony Tunes Cartoons”: Your favorite classic “Loony Tunes” characters are back in an all-new animated show.
“The Not Too Late Show with Elmo”: A live-action “Sesame Street” take on a late-night talk show.
“On the Record”: A documentary directed and produced by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering about the women of color who have come forward to accuse hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct and assault.
Expected for summer and fall
“The Flight Attendant”: A thriller starring Kaley Cuoco as a flight attendant who wakes up with a hangover in a hotel room in Dubai — next to a dead body.
Unscripted “Friends” reunion special: The one where Ross (David Schwimmer), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox), Chandler (Matthew Perry), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) get back together.
“Doom Patrol”: Season 2 of the series, about a team of superheroes with tragic origin stories based on DC Comics characters, will debut episodes simultaneously on HBO Max and DC Universe.
“Search Party”: Season 3 of the acclaimed dark comedy about a group of privileged, self-centered people in their 20s covering up a murder, starring Alia Shawkat, Meredith Hagner, Brandon Micheal Hall, John Early and John Reynolds, will debut on HBO Max. Season 4 has also been announced.
“Expecting Amy”: A behind-the-scenes look at Amy Schumer’s experience touring while pregnant, during preparations for a stand-up comedy special.
“Raised by Wolves”: Executive produced and directed by Ridley Scott (“Blade Runner”) and written by Aaron Guzikowski (“Prisoners”), this 10-episode series, filmed in Cape Town, South Africa, follows two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. As the human colony threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task.
“Close Enough”: An adult animated comedy from “Regular Show” creator J.G. Quintel about a millennial family who live with divorced roommates.
“Adventure Time: Distant Lands”: “BMO” will be the first of four one-hour specials based on the critically acclaimed Cartoon Network series. Subsequent installments will also follow select residents of the Land of Ooo, including Finn, Jake, Marceline, Princess Bubblegum and Peppermint Butler.
HBO Max has ordered four one-hour specials for “Adventure Time,” which ended its original run on Cartoon Network in 2018.
What other original series have been announced?
“Dune: The Sisterhood”: An adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s sci-fi novel set in the world of “Dune,” by Frank Herbert, from director Denis Villeneuve (“Blade Runner 2049").
“Tokyo Vice”: A series based on investigative journalist Jake Adelstein’s memoir about his time on the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat while working as the first non-Japanese reporter at Yomiuri Shimbun. The cast includes Ansel Elgort.
“Station Eleven”: A limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s post-apocalyptic novel, set after a flu epidemic has killed most of the world’s population.
“Made for Love”: A 10-episode adaptation of Alissa Nutting’s tragicomic novel about a woman who runs out on her marriage to a tech industry CEO who tracked her every move (and her vital signs) on his family compound.
“Americanah”: A limited series based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel following a woman born in Nigeria who leaves for America. The series, from Danai Gurira, will star Lupita Nyong’o.
“Gosspi Girl” spinoff: Set eight years after the finale of the original — which caused a sensation and helped re-invent the teen drama during its six-year run on the CW — this spinoff won’t follow Blair, Serena or any of your other faves, but will instead focus on a new set of New York City private-schoolers.
“The Boondocks” reboot: Creator Aaron McGruder will be back with Huey, Riley and Granddad Freeman for two new, re-imagined seasons of his acclaimed animated series. The reboot will launch in fall 2020 with a 50-minute special.
“gen:LOCK”: Season 2 of the animated series follows the participants in an experimental program for mechs — or giant, pilotable robots — in a dystopian future. With voice work from Michael B. Jordan, Dakota Fanning, Maisie Williams, Golshifteh Farahani and David Tennant, the series is headed to HBO Max after the first season premiered on Rooster Teeth.
“Grease: Rydell High”: A musical series based on the world of “Grease” that will tackle the high-school life in 1950s middle America “with a modern sensibility.”
“Starstruck”: A six-part comedy from Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner Rose Matafeo about a twentysomething millennial (played by Matafeo) who juggles two dead-end jobs and accidentally sleeps with a movie star.
“Circe”: A fantasy epic based on novelist Madeline Miller’s retelling of the Greek goddess’ story.
“DC Super Hero High”: A half-hour comedy series executive produced by Elizabeth Banks about a group of teens attending a boarding school for gifted kids who don’t know they will someday become legendary DC superheroes.
“Rap Sh*t”(working title): A half-hour comedy series from Issa Rae following a female rap group from outside Miami trying to make it in the music industry.
“College Girls” (working title): A half-hour comedy series from Mindy Kaling following three roommates — described as “sexually active college girls” who are “equal parts lovable and infuriating” — attending Evermore College in Vermont.
“Strange Adventures”: A one-hour superhero anthology series featuring DC Comics characters exploring the intersecting lives of mortals and superhumans. Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and showrunner John Stephens will executive produce.
“Green Lantern”: A new superhero series from Berlanti Productions inspired by the DC comic book characters.
“Duster”: A 1970s-set series following a getaway driver of a growing crime syndicate, co-written by J.J. Abrams and LaToya Morgan.
“Overlook”: The untold story of the infamous hotel, featuring characters from Stephen King’s “The Shining.”
“Justice League Dark”: Bad Robot’s take on the DC comics superhero team.
“The Prince”: An animated comedy about the life of Britain’s royal family as seen through the eyes of young Prince George, age 6.
“The Uninhabitable Earth”: An anthology series from Adam McKay, inspired by the book by David Wallace-Wells, composed of standalone stories imagining the possible futures that could result from rapid global warming.
“Generation”: A series created by 18-year-old Zelda Barnz and her father, Daniel Barnz, centered on a group of high school students whose exploration of their sexuality tests the conservative beliefs of their community. Executive produced by Lena Dunham and Ben Barnz.
“The Greatest Space”: A competition show in which interior designers are sent around the world to transform empty rooms into amazing spaces for a cash prize.
“Heaven’s Gate”: A four-part original documentary series exploring the Southern California-based cult whose members participated in a mass suicide coordinated to the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997.
“Generation Hustle” (working title): A 10-part documentary series “about the lengths young people will go for fame, fortune and power.”
“Brad & Gary Go To…” (working title): A lifestyle series following Hollywood couple Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti on their global culinary adventures. Goreski is a celebrity stylist and TV personality (“The Rachel Zoe Project,” “Fashion Police”), while Janetti is an Emmy-nominated producer and writer (“Family Guy,” “Will & Grace”).
“Birth, Wedding, Funeral”: A travel docuseries with Lisa Ling (CNN’s “This Is Life With Lisa Ling”) that will explore different cultures through three rituals: births, weddings and funerals.
“The Ho’s” (working title): A docuseries following the extravagant world of the multi-generation Ho family, crazy rich Asian Americans with a growing empire in Houston.
“Full Bloom”: A competition series where 10 contestants will face off to be crowned America’s best florist.
“EQUAL”: A four-part documentary series about the unsung heroes of the early years of the LGBTQ+ movement.
“Ellen’s Home Design Challenge”: Ellen DeGeneres challenges eight “forward-thinking designers” to push their home design creativity to the limit, while providing commentary and feedback.
“First Dates Hotel”: Based on a U.K. show, single people from multiple generations will try to find love through dates at a boutique hotel.
“Finding Einstein”: A docuseries that will search for, celebrate and support a new generation of Einsteins who strive to make the world a better place.
Stand-up specials from Conan O’Brien: O’Brien will host two stand-up specials featuring short sets from multiple up-and-coming comedians. He will also curate hour-long specials from three comics.
James Veitch special: A one-hour comedy special produced by O’Brien’s Team Coco.
“12 Dates of Christmas”: A dating series that puts its single cast members in real-life, holiday-themed rom-com scenarios.
“Hot Dog” (working title): A dog-grooming competition series hosted by Jess Rona.
“Wahl Steet”: A documentary series following actor Mark Wahlberg as he navigates his growing business portfolio.
“The Big Shot with Bethenny”: A competition series for aspiring moguls to become a part of Bethenny Frankel’s executive team.
“The Event”: A documentary series following members from Wolfgang Puck’s catering company as they put together high-profile events.
Tracy Morgan stand-up special
John Early stand-up special
Rose Matafeo stand-up special
Ahir Shah stand-up special
“Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai”: An animated prequel series following “Gremlins” shop owner Mr. Wing as a 10-year-old in 1920s Shanghai and his adventures with a Mogwai named Gizmo.
“Karma”: A competition series that takes 16 contestants, ages 12 to 15, off the grid to solve puzzles and complete physical challenges with rules set by the laws of karma.
“Sesame Street”: Starting with Season 51, the beloved kids program will premiere on HBO Max, with four more 35-episode seasons to follow. (New episodes will subsequently air for free on PBS Kids.) There will also be annual “Sesame Street” specials, starting with “The Monster at the End of This Show,” an animated adaptation of the Grover picture book “The Monster at the End of this Book.”
“Esme & Roy”: Season 2 of the animated show about a little girl named Esme and her best friend, Roy (a monster), moves to HBO Max. They live in a town populated mostly by monsters and help out all kinds of creatures with their problems.
“Mecha Builders” (working title): An animated “Sesame Street” spin-off featuring its familiar characters as heroes in a giant robot-style story.
Untitled Sesame Workshop docuseries: A documentary series exploring issues for kids and families.
“Little Ellen”: An animated show exploring the world through the eyes of a 7-year-old Ellen DeGeneres, consisting of 40 15-minute episodes.
“Jellystone”: Your favorite classic Hanna-Barbera characters, including Yogi Bear, Boo-Boo and Magilla Gorilla return in an all-new animated series set in the town of Jellystone.
“The Fungies!”: A prehistoric comedy from Cartoon Network Studios that follows a science-loving elementary school student named Seth, who stirs up trouble in his quest for the ultimate scientific adventure.
“Tig N’ Seek”: A series from Cartoon Network Studios about an 8-year-old sleuth named Tiggy and his inventor cat Gweeseek, who search for the lost items of Wee Gee City as part of the Department of Lost and Found.
“Tooned Out”: A half-hour hybrid live-action and animated comedy series from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” director Robert Zemeckis about Mac, who starts seeing iconic cartoon characters that help him get through a rough patch in his life.
“Aquaman: King of Atlantis”: A three-part animated miniseries about Aquaman learning what it means to be king of Atlantis, executive produced by James Wan.
What about original movies?
HBO Max has signed production deals with Greg Berlanti for four young-adult films (in addition to his aforementioned series), as well as a two-picture deal with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. The service plans to release five to 10 original movies a year. Here are its announced projects:
“Let Them All Talk” (working title): Directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Deborah Eisenberg, the film will star Meryl Streep as a celebrated author who takes a trip with some old friends. The cast includes Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges and Gemma Chan.
“UNpregnant”: An adaptation of the YA novel by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan about a college-bound 17-year-old who discovers she is pregnant and embarks on a 900-mile road trip with her ex-best friend to the nearest clinic that does not require parental consent for minors to get an abortion. The film stars Haley Lu Richardson (“Columbus”) and Barbie Ferreira (“Euphoria”).
“Superintelligence”: Melissa McCarthy stars in this comedy about an ordinary woman who discovers the world’s first superintelligence has chosen to observe her and her life as part of a plan to take over everything. Directed by Ben Falcone and written by Steve Mallory, the film also features Bobby Cannavale, Brian Tyree Henry, Jean Smart and James Corden.
“Bobbie Sue”: This film stars Gina Rodriguez as a scrappy, headstrong lawyer who realizes she’s been hired by a fancy law firm for the optics rather than her expertise. After learning about workers being exploited, she decides to take on her company as well as her lifelong idol.
“15 Minutes of Shame”: A documentary from executive producers Monica Lewinsky and Max Joseph (“Catfish”) that takes an in-depth look at public shaming.
Untitled Anthony Bourdain documentary: A documentary about the chef and storyteller from director Morgan Neville. The film will be released theatrically (Focus Features) before it makes its linear TV premier on CNN.
“The Scoop” (working title): A documentary feature following the lives of CNN’s female political reporters covering the presidential campaign.
“Persona” (working title): A documentary feature exploring America’s obsession with personality testing.
What else will be included in the HBO Max catalog?
HBO Max will launch with a back catalog that includes all 236 episodes of “Friends,” all 12 seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Sesame Street” episodes from the last 50 years, Studio Ghibli’s animated features, Criterion Collection titles, a monthly selection of classic films curated by Turner Classic Movies, and more.
In addition to the full HBO library, the service will also be the exclusive home to new CW dramas from the fall 2019 season — such as “Batwoman” and “Riverdale” spin-off “Katy Keene” — after their respective seasons end. Plus, new episodes of “South Park” will be available to stream 24 hours after they premiere on Comedy Central.
Below are a selection of titles that have been announced to be available through HBO Max.
“The Big Bang Theory”
“Sex and the City”
“Game of Thrones”
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
“Pretty Little Liars”
“South Park” (June 2020)
“Rick and Morty”
“Josie and the Pussycats”
“Scooby and Scrappy Doo”
“Castle in the Sky”
“The Cat Returns”
“From Up on Poppy Hill”
“Howl’s Moving Castle”
“Kiki’s Delivery Service”
“My Neighbor Totoro”
“My Neighbors the Yamadas”
“Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”
“The Secret World of Arrietty”
“The Tale of The Princess Kaguya”
“Tales From Earthsea”
“When Marnie Was There”
“Whisper of the Heart”
“The Wind Rises” (fall 2020)
“The Office” (U.K.)
“The Honourable Woman”
“Stath Lets Flats”
“First Dates” (U.K.)
“First Dates Hotel” (U.K.)
“The Furchester Hotel”
“Esme & Roy” Season 1
“Search Party” Seasons 1-2
“Doom Patrol” Season 1
“Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”
“Crazy Rich Asians”
“A Star is Born”