Last week, entertainment conglomerate WarnerMedia announced it had formed a new label to produce films specifically for its HBO Max subsidiary. Accordingly, Warner Max will produce 8 to 10 mid-budget films annually that the streaming service will host. HBO Max is scheduled to go live in May, and the first Warner Max movie will debut sometime this year.
WarnerMedia revealed HBO Max Chief Content Officer Kevin Riley and Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich would collaborate to decide which projects are produced by the new label. Notably, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey and Warner Bros. Entertainment President Ann Sarnoff made the call to form the new studio. The corporation intends for Warner Max to leverage content from its various holdings, including Warner Animation Group and DC Films.
According to Variety, Warner Max’s founding won’t impact the number of movies released by Warner Bros. or New Line Cinema.
Why WarnerMedia Formed Warner Max
WarnerMedia has created Warner Max to make its forthcoming streaming service more appealing to consumers.
Based on its earlier announcements, Warner’s streaming-video-on-demand (SVOD) platform won’t lack for content. Last July, the conglomerate stated its service would host more than 10,000 hours of content at launch. Like other entertainment streaming services, television programs will likely act as HBO Max’s bread-and-butter.
Indeed, the firm reportedly spent more than half a billion to acquire the streaming rights of CBS’s wildly popular “The Big Bang Theory.”
Nevertheless, new original movies have previously driven significant interest in SVOD platforms. Shortly after debuting, Netflix films like “Bright” and “The Cloverfield Paradox” racked up millions of views. Conversely, the service has won Academy Awards gold by producing and distributing movies like “Roma” and “Marriage Story.”
Since its inception, HBO has billed itself as a premium product. As such, WarnerMedia is shrewd to form a film unit that can expand upon that valuable brand identity.
Will HBO Max Succeed?
Other than revealing a release timeline, WarnerMedia didn’t offer any details about any forthcoming Warner Max productions. However, whatever films the new label produces will be in good company. At launch, the service will host content from BBC, CNN, Cartoon Network, Crunchyroll, The CW, HBO, TBS, TNT, TruTV, and Warner Bros. Pictures.
Last October, WarnerMedia announced it had acquired the streaming rights to the Studio Ghibli film library. As such, HBO Max will be the first U.S. SVOD to host the work of legendary director Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away”). The service will also host acclaimed adult animated series like “South Park” and “Rick & Morty.”
The SVOD is also working to produce a “Friends” reunion special hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.
At present, the cable network’s standalone streaming service, HBO Now, has around 9 million subscribers. With the diverse array of TV content it will host, HBO Max shouldn’t have a hard time attracting a much larger audience. However, the fact that the SVOD’s higher than standard monthly access fee is $14.99 could hamper its broad appeal.
Consequently, WarnerMedia might have a hard time hitting its stated subscriber goal of 80 million people by 2024. Therefore, the onus will be on Warner Max to produce some genuinely captivating and critically lauded new original movies.