AT&T’s WarnerMedia announced last fall its plan was to launch the new streaming service HBO Max in May 2020 for $14.99 per month. Today, we have a solid launch date: May 27th. AT&T has also now revealed its initial programming slate for the new direct-to-consumer service, which includes over 10,000 hours of premium content from both the HBO service and past and present titles from Warner Bros., in addition to a selection of original programming.
However, some of the more high-profile original projects and new HBO series won’t arrive on launch day.
Instead, HBO Max is promising a more modest slate of original programming at its premiere, including a scripted comedy called “Love Life,” starring Anna Kendrick; the Sundance 2020 Official Selection feature documentary “On the Record;” the underground ballroom dance competition series “Legendary;” a kids competition series, “Craftopia,” hosted by YouTuber LaurDIY; the all-new “Looney Tunes Cartoons” from Warner Bros. Animation; and Sesame Workshop’s “The Not Too Late Show with Elmo.”
WarnerMedia also today released the trailers for the new shows for the first time, available on its YouTube channel.
The service’s added focus on family-friendly entertainment is meant to offer HBO a better way to compete with rival streamers, like Netflix and Disney+, in a crowded market. That said, the launch comes at a time when many families are stuck at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, in search of things to watch as a group. That could prove beneficial for HBO Max — at least in its early days, before the government lockdowns are lifted.
In the long run, HBO Max will easily convert its HBO NOW subscriber base — after all, it’s the same price — but will have to prove itself on the original front to gain new customers. And unfortunately, it no longer has a breakout hit like “Game of Thrones” to lead the way.
“Our number one goal is having extraordinary content for everyone in the family, and the HBO Max programming mix we are so excited to unveil on May 27th will bear that out,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of Warner Media Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer, in a statement about the launch. “Even in the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, the all-star teams behind every aspect of HBO Max will deliver a platform and a robust slate of content that is varied, of the highest quality, and second to none. I’m knocked out by the breadth and depth of our new offering, from the Max originals, our Warner Bros library and acquisition titles from around the world, and of course the entirety of HBO,” he added.
WarnerMedia had been steadily announcing the shows it had greenlit for HBO and HBO MAX to whet consumers’ appetite for the service, pre-launch. These included a “Game of Thrones” spin-off for HBO called “House of the Dragon,” plus new shows from Elizabeth Banks, Issa Rae and Mindy Kaling; new DC Comics titles “Green Lantern” and “Strange Adventures” from “Arrow’s” producer; and reboots of classics ranging from “Grease” to “Gossip Girl” to “Dune,” and more.
Last week, WarnerMedia also revealed the first three J.J. Abrams series for HBO Max, including “Duster,” “The Shining” offshoot “Overlook” and an untitled DC Comics project focused on characters in the Justice League Dark universe.
However, many of its more anticipated projects weren’t mentioned today as being in HBO MAX’s near-term future.
Instead, the next set of Max Originals to arrive this summer and fall include “The Flight Attendant,” starring and executive produced by Kaley Cuoco; all-new original episodes of DC fan favorite “Doom Patrol;” the return of the mystery comedy “Search Party;” a three-part documentary series, “Expecting Amy,” starring comedian Amy Schumer; sci-fi series “Raised by Wolves” from director and executive producer Ridley Scott; the adult animated comedy “Close Enough” from J.G. Quintel (creator of Cartoon Network’s Emmy-winning “Regular Show”); and “Adventure Time: Distant Lands-BMO,” the first of four breakout specials resurrecting Cartoon Network’s Emmy-winning franchise “Adventure Time.”
In fact, the biggest draw in terms of can’t-get-it-elsewhere content may end up being the unscripted cast reunion special for “Friends,” which will arrive later this year, once it’s able to be filmed.
The service will also soon include the full run of “Friends,” along with the libraries of “The Big Bang Theory;” (new) “Doctor Who;” “Rick and Morty;” “The Boondocks;” “The Bachelor;” “Sesame Street;” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air;” CW shows such as “Batwoman,” “Nancy Drew” and “Katy Keene;” the first season of DC’s “Doom Patrol;” “The O.C.;” “Pretty Little Liars;” the CNN catalog of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown;” and more.
“South Park,” “Gossip Girl” and “The West Wing” will be added in the first year.
Feature films to arrive will include “Crazy Rich Asians,” “A Star is Born,” “Aquaman” and “Joker,” along with others it acquired from the Criterion Collection and the acclaimed Studio Ghibli. Classics will include “Casablanca,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Matrix,” “The Goonies,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Citizen Kane,” “Gremlins” and the “LEGO” movies, along with every DC film from the last decade, including “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League,” and every “Batman” and “Superman” movie from the last 40 years.
In total, HBO Max promises a library of over 2,000 feature films in the first year.
And finally, the service will also pull from WarnerMedia’s library of movies and TV, New Line and library titles from DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth and Looney Tunes. And it will offer a selection of classic films curated in partnership with TCM, plus third-party acquired series and movies.
AT&T also announced today its plans to bundle HBO MAX with its existing services, offering the option to tens of millions of wireless, video, and internet customers at no extra charge.
At launch, if you currently subscribe to HBO through AT&T you will get immediate access to HBO MAX included in your service for no additional charge. Plans that include HBO MAX are AT&T Unlimited Elite, AT&T Internet 1000, AT&T TV NOW Max, DIRECTV PREMIER, and AT&T U-Verse U400 and U450. Nearly all other AT&T customers will be able to access HBO Max via a special offer or choose to upgrade to a plan where it’s included.
Updated 4/21/20, 3:15 PM ET with AT&T bundling information.