All of Warner Bros’ theatrical movies will get a simultaneous release on HBO Max next year

Following last month’s news that “Wonder Woman 1984” will be released simultaneously on HBO Max and in U.S. theaters, Warner Bros. and its parent company WarnerMedia just announced that they will follow the same strategy with every theatrical release that they’ve got planned for 2021.

That includes movies like “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Mortal Kombat,” “In The Heights,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy” “The Suicide Squad,” “Dune,” the “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark” and “The Matrix 4.” (The WarnerMedia announcement notes that release dates could change, which might move some of these titles out of the scope of today’s announcement.)

These movies will be available on HBO Max for one month, in 4K Ultra HD and HDR, at no additional charge.

Earlier this year, Hollywood studios responded to widespread theatrical by bringing some films straight to streaming while delaying their big releases. The disappointing box office performance of “Tenet” (also from Warner Bros.) prompted additional delays — but as the pandemic stretched on, there was a growing sense that studios couldn’t afford to delay things forever.

For example, Universal had already reached a deal with AMC and other major chains to release movies on premium video on demand just three weeks after they launch in theaters, with the revenue split with theatrical partners.

But WarnerMedia’s announcement seems like an even more dramatic shift — and while it only covers 2021, it could signal potentially long-lasting changes to theaters’ exclusive release window.

This also comes after former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar took over as WarnerMedia’s chief executive in April, a move (followed by multiple rounds of layoffs) that seemed to put streaming front-and-center in the company’s priorities.

In a statement, Kilar said:

After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion that this was the best way for WarnerMedia’s motion picture business to navigate the next 12 months. More importantly, we are planning to bring consumers 17 remarkable movies throughout the year, giving them the choice and the power to decide how they want to enjoy these films. Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone. We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.

#hbo-max, #tc, #warner-bros, #warnermedia

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‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is coming to HBO Max (and some U.S. theaters) on Dec. 25

Although COVID-19 is surging in the United States and around the world, Warner Bros. still plans to release “Wonder Woman 1984” on Christmas Day — but its plans are are no longer limited to a theatrical release.

Director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot both posted tweets last night announcing that in in the United States, the film will be released simultaneously in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max.

“THE TIME HAS COME,” Jenkins wrote. “At some point you have to choose to share any love you have to give over everything else. We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season.”

A press release from HBO Max offers a few more details: The film will debut in theaters internationally on December 16, then launch in U.S. theaters and on HBO Max on December 25. It will be available to the streaming service’s U.S. subscribers for one month at no additional cost.

While the pandemic caused some films to shift from a theatrical release to streaming, the studios have mostly chosen to delay their big blockbusters. The Wonder Woman sequel (which had already moved around the calendar several times as part of normal Hollywood scheduling) was scheduled for a June release when the pandemic started, with Warner Bros. pushing the date back to August, then from August to Christmas.

Last month, the disappointing box office performance of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” (which Warner Bros. only released in theaters) prompted studios to delay other tentpoles like “Dune,” “No Time To Die” and “The Batman.” But they may not want be able to delay indefinitely — and in the case of WarnerMedia, this also seems like a smart way to drive subscriptions for HBO Max after a rocky launch.

Disney, meanwhile, decided to release its live action “Mulan” remake on Disney+ for an additional $29.99 (while also supporting a theatrical launch in some markets). It will be releasing Pixar’s “Soul” via streaming on Christmas Day at no additional charge.

#entertainment, #hbo-max, #media, #warner-bros, #warnermedia

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Conan O’Brien will launch a weekly variety show on HBO Max

Conan O’Brien is making the move to streaming. In June of next year, his nightly talk show “Conan” will be ending its 10-year run on TBS, while he launches a new, weekly variety series on streaming service HBO Max.

“In 1993 Johnny Carson gave me the best advice of my career: ‘As soon as possible, get to a streaming platform,’” O’Brien said in a statement. “I’m thrilled that I get to continue doing whatever the hell it is I do on HBO Max, and I look forward to a free subscription.”

The announcement doesn’t mention a launch date or any other details of the new show, but it does position this as an extension of O’Brien’s relationship with WarnerMedia, which owns both HBO Max and TBS. It also says that he will continue to make his “Conan Without Borders” travel specials for the cable network.

O’Brien is no stranger to reinvention. The one-time comedy writer (never forget that he wrote the beloved “Marge vs. the Monorail” episode of “The Simpsons”) made the transition to late-night host in the early ’90s, then moved to TBS after a notoriously truncated run as host of “The Tonight Show.”

More recently, he launched the podcast “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” (which is an absolute delight). In fact, O’Brien joined us at this year’s Disrupt conference to discuss the podcast’s success.

When asked whether he planned to continue hosting late night TV, O’Brien’s reply may have hinted at today’s news: “All of this is converging. I think the message that I would have for everybody watching TechCrunch Disrupt right now is that people need to open up their minds a little bit. If I’m making podcasts, it doesn’t prohibit me from also maybe do maybe doing something, it doesn’t have to necessarily be for Turner, it could be for anybody.”

#conan-obrien, #entertainment, #hbo-max, #media, #warnermedia

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WarnerMedia to discontinue HBO and WB TV channels in India, and select other South Asia markets

WarnerMedia will discontinue HBO and WB TV channels in India, Pakistan, Maldives, and Bangladesh later this year as the entertainment conglomerate struggles to find a sustainable business model in South Asian despite operating in the region for over a decade.

The company said it will end HBO and WB TV channels in the aforementioned markets, where a cable subscription costs about $4 to $5 a month, on December 15. In India, for instance, it costs less than 25 cents to subscribe to both HBO (in HD) and WB atop a monthly cable plan, which costs about $2.

While HBO is a household name in the U.S. and several other developed markets, in India and other South Asian nations, its audience size remains tiny. Times Internet’s Movies Now, Star Movies, and Sony Pix had a considerably larger viewership than HBO in India last month, according to Broadcast Audience Research Council, India’s ratings agency.

Warner Media cited a dramatic market shift in the pay-TV industry for its decision. It said it will continue to offer Cartoon Network and Pogo in India, and distribute CNN International in the country.

“After 20 years of successes for the HBO linear movie channel in South Asia and more than a decade with the WB linear movie channel, this was a difficult decision to make. The pay-TV industry landscape and the market dynamics have shifted dramatically, and the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for further change,” said Siddharth Jain, SVP and Managing Director of WarnerMedia’s entertainment network in South Asia, in a statement.

HBO also maintains a content syndication partnership with Disney’s Hotstar in India. So the streamer will continue to offer HBO’s shows such as “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” — hopefully without any censorship — in the country.

“WarnerMedia has a strong interest in India and are committed to assessing optimal opportunities to serve valued customers here,” said Jain.

#asia, #entertainment, #hbo, #india, #south-asia, #tv, #warnermedia

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Watch the first trailer for the insanely star-studded ‘Dune’

That strange feeling? That’s the sensation of being excited about new movies again.

Now that theaters are slowly reopening (though not yet in New York or most of California, and I am 100% okay with that), studios are once again releasing trailers to hype up their scheduled releases for 2020 and beyond. Today, we finally got the first trailer for a new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel “Dune.”

The story focuses on the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune, which has become the key location in a galactic power struggle — it’s the only source of the spice melange, necessary for both space travel and immortality. Paul Atreides (played here by Timothée Chalamet) comes to Dune as teenaged royalty, but palace intrigue soon threatens his life and turns him into an uncomfortable messiah figure to the planet’s inhabitants, known as Fremen. (The trailer suggests that Paul’s “jihad” in the books has become a “crusade” in the movie.)

As a book, “Dune” has been sequeled, prequeled, turned into multiple TV miniseries and adapted into beloved computer games. Most famously, David Lynch directed (then disowned) a film version in 1984. And while Lynch’s “Dune” has some striking moments, it was also a box office bomb, and very few book fans would consider it a faithful or successful adaptation. (Alejandro Jodorwosky’s unsuccessful attempt to film the book was the subject of a separate documentary.)

This time around, “Dune” is being directed by Denis Villeneuve, who previously helmed “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049.” And it boasts an all-star cast — Chalamet is joined by Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem, among others.

Unlike the Lynch version, this new “Dune” is only expected to adapt the first half of the book, with a planned sequel handling the rest. And while Warner Bros. is releasing the film, its parent company WarnerMedia is also planning a spinoff TV series for HBO Max, with Villeneuve directing the pilot.

“Dune” is currently scheduled for release in theaters on December 18, 2020. Will that actually happen? Well, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” (also from Warner Bros.) is the first blockbuster movie in theaters since the pandemic began, and it seems to be doing pretty well, particularly outside the United States.

 

#dune, #entertainment, #media, #warnermedia

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AT&T layoffs continue with 600 job cuts at Warner Bros. and HBO

AT&T logos seen on the window and door of a building.

Enlarge / An AT&T sign and logo on Main Street during the Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (credit: Getty Images | Mat Hayward)

AT&T’s WarnerMedia division is planning to lay off hundreds of employees in AT&T’s latest cost-cutting move. “Warner Bros. is expected to commence layoffs of around 650 people starting Monday, according to people familiar with the matter, while HBO is seen shedding between 150 and 175 staffers. A WarnerMedia spokesman declined to comment,” Variety reported yesterday.

The numbers quoted in Variety may be a bit too high. A source with knowledge of the AT&T layoffs told Ars that the real number is about 600 jobs across all of WarnerMedia, which includes Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner.

The layoffs come days after WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar announced a shakeup including the departure of three executives and an increased focus on AT&T’s new HBO Max streaming service. Kilar detailed the changes in an internal memo published by CNBC on Friday.

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#att, #biz-it, #hbo, #layoffs, #time-warner, #warnermedia

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WarnerMedia tries to simplify HBO branding by sunsetting HBO Go and renaming HBO Now

WarnerMedia is hoping to make things simpler for anyone wondering whether to get HBO Max, HBO Go or HBO Now.

Back in simpler times, there were only two HBO streaming apps — Go for cable subscribers, and Now for viewers who wanted a standalone streaming subscription. Then the company launched launched HBO Max last month.

Content-wise, Max encompasses the HBO library plus a bunch of additional movies and shows. Meanwhile, from an app perspective, it was released as an update to HBO Now … except on Fire TV and Roku, where WarnerMedia has yet to reach a deal to offer Max, so the app is still HBO Now.

Just typing that out made me feel tired. And after all that, here’s what WarnerMedia announced today:

Now that HBO Max has launched and is widely distributed, we can implement some significant changes to our app offering in the U.S. As part of that plan, we will be sunsetting our HBO GO service in the U.S. We intend to remove the HBO GO app from primary platforms as of July 31, 2020. Most customers who have traditionally used HBO GO to stream HBO programming are now able to do so via HBO Max, which offers access to all of HBO together with so much more. Additionally, the HBO NOW app and desktop experience will be rebranded to HBO. Existing HBO NOW subscribers will have access to HBO through the rebranded HBO app on platforms where it remains available and through play.hbo.com. HBO Max provides not only the robust offering of HBO but also a vast WarnerMedia library and acquired content and originals through a modern product.

While the changes are tedious to explain, it sounds like they will actually result in a (somewhat) simpler set of consumer choices. Basically:

  • The HBO Max app is going to be the primary HBO app going forward.
  • If you subscribe to HBO through one of the supported cable providers (including AT&T, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Hulu, Optimum, Spectrum, Verizon Fios and YouTube TV), you should be able to use the HBO Max app at no additional cost.
  • If you’re trying to watch HBO on a device that doesn’t yet support HBO Max — namely, Fire TV or Roku — then you’re going to be using an app that doesn’t have all the extra content. That app has the no-frills name HBO.

See? Simple!

#entertainment, #hbo, #hbo-max, #media, #warnermedia

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HBO Max temporarily removes ‘Gone with the Wind’ for ‘racist depictions’

One of the selling points for HBO Max, the recently-launched streaming service from WarnerMedia, is the inclusion of classic films from Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection. But choosing which old movies to include, and how to present them, can get thorny.

Case in point: “Gone with the Wind” is generally considered one of the greatest and most popular movies of all time — but it also presents a cheery version of slavery and glorifies the antebellum south.

In the context of the recent protests following the death of George Floyd, along with the broader discussions about racial justice, “12 Years a Slave” screenwriter John Ridley published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calling on HBO Max to remove the film.

Ridley acknowledged that “movies are often snapshots of moments in history” and that “even the most well-intentioned films can fall short in how they represent marginalized communities.” However, he suggested that “‘Gone with the Wind’ is “its own unique problem … It is a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.”

HBO Max has now responded by removing the film and releasing a statement acknowledging that its “racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.”

At the same time, the statement suggests that the removal is only temporary: “These depictions are certainly counter to WarnerMedia’s values, so when we return the film to HBO Max, it will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.”

HBO Max isn’t the first streaming service to face these questions. Disney+ (which probably needs to take a more hands-on approach, given its focus on family and children’s programming) includes disclaimers about “outdated cultural depictions” on titles like “Dumbo,” while former CEO Bob Iger has also said the notoriously racist “Song of the South” is “not appropriate in today’s world” and will never been included on the service.

#hbo-max, #media, #policy, #tc, #warnermedia

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HBO Max was downloaded by 87K new users yesterday (Sensor Tower)

How did yesterday’s launch of HBO Max go? We don’t have official numbers from WarnerMedia, but app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower says HBO Max was downloaded by nearly 87,000 new users across Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

That number might seem pretty low compared to other streaming launches — like the 4 million first-day installs for Disney+, or even the 300,000 installs for Quibi.

But keep in mind that HBO Max isn’t an entirely new service, either from a content perspective (it bundles HBO’s library with a wide range of other TV shows and movies) or from an app perspective, since it was released as an update for the existing HBO Now streaming app.

Sensor Tower acknowledged that these numbers do not include people who simply updated their old HBO app, but it offered another way to look at yesterday’s performance: Previously, HBO Now was averaging 16,000 new installs every day, so that’s 71,000 more downloads than normal.

It’s also worth noting that as I write this on Thursday afternoon, HBO Max is currently number two among “free” apps the App Store, behind Zoom but ahead of YouTube, Netflix, TikTok and Disney+.

Sensor Tower estimated that HBO Now and Max have been downloaded by 33 million people since launching in April 2015, compared to 260 million for Netflix, 120 million for Hulu (both Netflix and Hulu were measured starting in January 2014) and 50 million for Disney+.

#entertainment, #hbo-max, #media, #warnermedia

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Amazon offers more details about why HBO Max isn’t on Fire TV

WarnerMedia’s new streaming service HBO Max launched today with couple of conspicuous absences from the list of supported devices — Max is not yet available on Roku or Amazon’s Fire TV.

It sounds like this isn’t just a technical issue that will be fixed imminently. WarnerMedia’s vice president of communications Chris Willard told USA Today that “there is no deal in place” to bring the service to those platforms.

In a statement sent out this afternoon, Amazon suggested that the disagreement revolves around bringing HBO Max to Prime Video Channels, and around HBO’s somewhat confusing distribution strategy. (For those of you who haven’t been following along: The HBO Now app is being updated as HBO Max, which includes HBO, plus a bunch of other content. At the same time, HBO will continue to operate as a standalone brand.)

The company said that by not making Max available through Prime Video Channels, WarnerMedia’s parent company AT&T “is choosing to deny those loyal HBO customers access to the expanded catalog.”

Here’s Amazon’s full statement:

With a seamless customer experience, nearly 5 million HBO streamers currently access their subscription through Amazon’s Prime Video Channels. Unfortunately, with the launch of HBO Max, AT&T is choosing to deny these loyal HBO customers access to the expanded catalog. We believe that if you’re paying for HBO, you’re entitled to the new programming through the method you’re already using. That’s just good customer service and that’s a priority for us.

Meanwhile, a statement from Roku also pointed to unresolved issues:

As the No. 1 streaming platform in the U.S. we believe that HBO Max would benefit greatly from the scale and content marketing capabilities available with distribution on our platform. We are focused on mutually positive distribution agreements with all new OTT services that will deliver a quality user experience to viewers in the more than 40 million households that choose Roku to access their favorite programs and discover new content. Unfortunately we haven’t reached agreement yet with HBOMax. While not on our platform today, we look forward to helping HBOMax in the future successfully scale their streaming business.

 

#amazon, #amazon-fire-tv, #entertainment, #hbo-max, #media, #roku, #warnermedia

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Daily Crunch: HBO Max launches in the US

WarnerMedia unveils its new streaming service, Donald Trump is mad at Twitter and GE Lighting has a new owner.

Here’s your Daily Crunch for May 27, 2020.

1. HBO Max launches today, here’s what you need to know

At $14.99 per month, the service — initially available to subscribers in the United States — is more expensive than competing offerings like Netflix and Disney+. But from another angle, it’s still a pretty sweet deal, since you’re getting HBO, plus a whole bunch of extra content, for the exact same price as an HBO subscription.

Subscribers to HBO’s standalone streaming service HBO Now should be able to update their app to HBO Max today. The app is currently available for a range of devices including Android phones and tablets, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromebooks, Chromecasts, iPhones, iPads, PlayStation 4, Samsung TV and Xbox One — but not yet for Roku or Fire TV.

2. After Twitter fact-check, Trump threatens to regulate or close down social media platforms

After Twitter added a fact-checking warning label to the president’s misleading tweet about mail-in ballots, Donald Trump took to the platform to denounce it. In what may be his strongest words yet against a service that has largely given him free rein, he tweeted, “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”

3. Smart home company Savant set to acquire GE Lighting

The division has existed as part of General Electric since 1911, with its origins reaching back even further to Thomas Edison’s work in the space. Today the GE Lighting portfolio still largely revolves around bulbs, but it’s also the home to C by GE, a series of smart home products.

4. Google removes millions of negative TikTok reviews amid backlash in India

Hashtags such as BanTikTok, DeleteTikTok and BlockTikTok have trended on Twitter in India in the past three weeks after users unearthed recent videos that appeared to promote domestic violence, animal cruelty, racism, child abuse and objectification of women.

5. What should startup founders know before negotiating with corporate VCs?

For startups, taking funding from corporate venture capitalists can come with many benefits, including new opportunities for marketing, partnerships and sales channels. Still, no founder should consider a corporate investor “just another VC.” CVCs come with their own set of priorities, strategic objectives and rules. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. How do several local news stations air virtually identical Amazon COVID-19 segments?

The company has been on the offensive in recent weeks when it comes to how it has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon’s offered all sorts of blog posts, public statements and made the subject a centerpiece of its recent shareholder letter and earnings report. It also went ahead and uploaded a suggested news segment to BusinessWire, complete with warehouse footage and a script for news anchors.

7. YouTube Kids app is now available for Apple TV

YouTube Kids is meant to give children a safer alternative to YouTube, where even Restricted Mode can let through violent content and other things parents and caretakers don’t want kids to see.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

#daily-crunch, #entertainment, #hbo-max, #media, #warnermedia

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HBO Max launches today, here’s what you need to know

HBO Max, the HBO -plus-other-stuff streaming service from WarnerMedia, is finally here.

At $14.99 per month, the service — initially available to subscribers in the United States — is more expensive than competing offerings like Netflix and Disney+. But from another angle, it’s still a pretty sweet deal, since you’re getting HBO, plus a whole bunch of extra content, for the exact same price as an HBO subscription. (WarnerMedia couldn’t go lower than $15 per month without undercutting HBO pricing and violating its agreements with cable providers.)

So if it’s the same price as HBO and includes most of the same content, why launch a new service at all? As executives at WarnerMedia and its corporate parent AT&T have made clear, they’re hoping compete with players like Netflix. That means building a broader audience than HBO — though they’re also trying to leverage HBO’s reputation for prestige TV and its early success with streaming — and expanding globally. It will also probably involve introducing cheaper, ad-supported plans in the future.

The big question is whether WarnerMedia has successfully translated these corporate imperatives into a compelling offering for consumers. There’s certainly a rich library of content — WarnerMedia says HBO Max is launching with 10,000 hours of movies and TV, including existing shows like “Friends,” “The Big Bang Theory,” the new version of “Doctor Who,” “Rick and Morty,” “The Boondocks,” “The Bachelor,” “Sesame Street,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Batwoman,” “Nancy Drew,” “Katy Keene,” “Doom Patrol,” “The O.C.,” “Pretty Little Liars” and “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.”

The lineup includes newer movies like “Crazy Rich Asians,” “A Star is Born,” “Aquaman” and “Joker,” as well as classics like “Casablanca,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Matrix,” “The Goonies,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Citizen Kane,” and “Gremlins.” HBO Max will also offer titles from the Criterion Collection and the full library of Studio Ghibli films.

And if you’re a superhero fan, it’s got every DC film from the last decade, including “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League” (plus director Zack Snyder’s cut of the film, scheduled for release next year) and every Batman and Superman movie from the last 40 years.

When it comes to original content, things get a little bit sparser, particularly when you distinguish between HBO originals and HBO Max originals (though regular subscribers may not care about the difference). On the Max side, originals available at launch include a kids reality TV series called “Craftopia,” a new set of “Looney Tunes” cartoons, “The Not Too Late Show With Elmo,” another reality show called “Legendary,” a romantic comedy anthology series starring Anna Kendrick called “Love Life” and a music industry documentary called “On the Record.”

Screen Shot 2019 10 29 at 7.53.19 PM

Image Credits: WarnerMedia

There’s more original programming scheduled for later this year, including a “Friends” reunion special (they’re waiting on a time when it’s safe to shoot in-person), new seasons of “Doom Patrol” and “Search Party,” and “Raised by Wolves,” a new science fiction series executive produced and directed by Ridley Scott.

Of course,this launch is happening as the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for many streaming services. Viewership and subscriptions are up (at least for services designed to be watched in the living room)— no surprise, with movie theaters closed, people stuck at home and professional sports on hold — to the point that many streamers have had to reduce their quality in some regions.

At the same time, the pandemic has largely shut down film and TV production around the world, with no clear date for when it can resume. That means the release date for many HBO Max originals — not just the “Friends” reunion but also new “Adventure Time” specials, reboots of “Gossip Girl” and “Grease,” a “Dune” series spinning off from the big-screen adaptation due out later this year, a new “Green Lantern” series and more — remain uncertain.

So how do you get the app? Subscribers to HBO’s standalone streaming service HBO Now should be able to update their app to HBO Max today. The app is currently available for a range of devices including Android phones and tablets, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromebooks, Chromecasts, iPhones, iPads, PlayStation 4, Samsung TV and Xbox One — but not yet for Roku of Fire TV.

WarnerMedia says the service should also be available to HBO subscribers through partners like AT&T, Cox, DirecTV, Hulu, Optimum, Spectrum, Verizon Fios and YouTube TV at no additional cost — there’s a whole section on the HBO Max website about how to sign up.

And if you aren’t already a subscriber, you can sign up for a free seven-day rial on the HBO Max website.

#att, #entertainment, #hbo-max, #media, #warnermedia

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HBO Max will release Zack Snyder’s cut of ‘Justice League’

WarnerMedia announced today that director Zack Snyder’s version of “Justice League” will be released on HBO Max in 2021.

Snyder is the only credited director on the 2017 superhero film, but he left the film during post-production, after his daughter’s suicide, with “Avengers” director Joss Whedon stepping in to write and shoot new material.

The resulting film received mixed reviews and underperformed at the box office, leading to corporate shakeups at DC Entertainment and pushing the studio to focus on standalone films, rather than big crossovers.

At the same time, #ReleaseTheSnyderCut has become a popular hashtag on social media, with many of the movie’s stars joining in, so WarnerMedia is finally responding. It’s also probably happy to find a fresh source of already filmed content for HBO Max while COVID-19 has forced a pause on film and TV production. (The HBO-and-more streaming service launches next week.)

It’s not clear what form the release will take — according to The Hollywood Reporter, it might be a single film of nearly four hours, or it might be broken up into six chapters. And apparently the estimated cost is somewhere between $20 and $30 million.

“I want to thank HBO Max and Warner Brothers for this brave gesture of supporting artists and allowing their true visions to be realized,” Snyder said in a statement. “Also a special thank you to all of those involved in the SnyderCut movement for making this a reality.”

Personally, I’ve been a bit skeptical of the social media uproar, partly because I liked the existing version of “Justice League” just fine, despite its obvious flaws; partly because Snyder’s previous film “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” was almost unwatchably bad; and partly because it’s become tediously predictable for indignant fans to demand a new version of a movie or TV show they didn’t like.

Still, it’s hard not to feel sympathetic for a director who just wants present his vision, particularly when the work was derailed by tragedy. And I can’t deny that I’m curious. So bring on the Snyder Cut.

#entertainment, #hbo-max, #justice-league, #media, #warnermedia

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HBO Max debuts on May 27th with 10,000 hours of content, including a handful of originals

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.

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