HBO Max Rebrands to “Max,” Announces Harry Potter TV Series, New Game of Thrones Prequel, Plus Trailers for Penguin, True Detective and MorePhoto Courtesy of HBO Max TV News
For everyone who thought that HBO Max was a strange name for a streaming services that was, in fact, so much than just HBO, CEO David Zaslav wants you to hold his beer. WarnerMedia announced today that HBO Max, which will now be folded in with Discovery+ (which will still remain its own service…) will be rebranded as “Max,” even though HBO was the marquee acquisition that WB wanted to show off. And yet, that aside, consider that Warner Brothers itself has literally been around for 100 years, with brand recognition and public favor that you cannot buy or manufacture, and its streaming service is now going to be called… Max. It’s incredible, really.
Current subscribers to HBO Max will see no change to their accounts, only new logos. “Max” will launch May 23, and will cost $15.99 a month ($149.99/year) for the ad-free version and $9.99 per month ($99.99/year) for the ad-supported tier. A third “ultimate” ad-free version with 4K UHD resolution, 100 offline downloads and Dolby Atmos sound will be available for $19.99 a month ($199.99/year).
In addition to this news, “Max” (I can’t get over it) also dumped a ton of trailers and projects to keep us excited about their future prospects even though the entire entity feels like it’s a complete mess from top to bottom. But hey, a Penguin series! You can see more about that, as well as a new teaser for the latest season of True Detective, more information about the Game of Thrones prequel, a Harry Potter series, news of a Big Bang Theory project, and more of this IP bonanza from a cavalcade of press releases below.
Starring Colin Farrell as The Penguin, the eight-episode DC Studios drama series (currently in production) 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.
True Detective: Night Country
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.
True Detective: Night Country stars 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.
Showrunner, writer, director, executive producer, Issa López; star and executive producer, Jodie Foster. Executive Producers: Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, and Mark Ceryak for PASTEL; Mari Jo Winkler; Chris Mundy; Alan Page Arriaga; Steve Golin; Richard Brown; Woody Harrelson; Matthew McConaughey; Cary Joji Fukunaga; Nic Pizzolatto. Producers: Princess Daazhraii Johnson; Cathy Tagnak Rexford; Sam Breckman.
Limited series The Regime (formerly known by its working title “The Palace”), stars Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet, directed by Stephen Frears and Jessica Hobbs, and written by Will Tracy. The series 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. 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.
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.
Park Chan-wook and Don McKellar co-showrun and executive produce the series. 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.
Co-showrunner, executive producer, writer, and director (episodes 1-3), Park Chan-wook; co-showrunner, executive producer, and writer, Don McKellar; executive producer, A24; executive producer and star, Robert Downey Jr., executive producer, Susan Downey, executive producer, Amanda Burrell for Team Downey; executive producer, Kim Ly; executive producer, Niv Fichman for Rhombus Media; executive producer, Ron Schmidt; executive producer and author of book, Viet Thanh Nguyen; executive producer, Jisun Back for Moho Film. Directors: Fernando Meirelles (episode 4), Marc Munden (episodes 5-7). Writers: Mark Richard, Naomi Iizuka, Maegan Houang, Anchuli Felicia King, Tea Ho. The Sympathizer is a Co-Production between HBO, A24, and Rhombus Media, produced in association with Cinetic Media and Moho Film.
Harry Potter TV Series in the Works
Max has ordered an original “Harry Potter” scripted television series, it was confirmed today during Warner Bros. Discovery’s unveiling of the Max streaming service on the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles. The series will be a faithful adaptation of the beloved “Harry Potter” 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.
Max in association with Brontë Film and TV, and Warner Bros. Television. Executive produced by J.K. Rowling, Neil Blair, and Ruth Kenley-Letts. David Heyman is currently in talks to executive produce.
Game of Thrones Prequel A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight Announced
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.
Gremlins: Secrets of Mogwai
Gremlins: Secrets of 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 Mogwai will premiere May 23rd on Max, and 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.
SmartLess: On the Road
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.
The six-part Max Original docuseries SmartLess: On the Road will debut Tuesday, May 23, and is directed by Sam Jones.
New Big Bang Theory Project in Development
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 (now in its sixth season), 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.
New Drama Series in The Conjuring Universe in Development
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.
Animated Peter and the Wolf Comes to Cartoon Network
Max and Cartoon Network have greenlit an animated rendition of the beloved classic tale Peter and 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.
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.
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, it was announced today exclusively during Warner Bros. Discovery’s unveiling of the Max streaming service on the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles. 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.
Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge
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 (“Married to Real Estate”); Jasmine Roth (“Help! I Wrecked My House”) and Antonia Lofaso (“Beachside Brawl”); Ty Pennington (“Rock the Block”) and Alison Victoria (“Windy City Rehab”); Jonathan Knight and Kristina Crestin (“Farmhouse Fixer”); Christina Hall and James Bender (“Christina on the Coast”); Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas (“Bargain Block”); Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt (“100 Day Dream Home”); and Michel Smith Boyd and Anthony Elle Williams (“Luxe for Less”). 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.
Discovery Channel Greenlights Survival and Social Experiment 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, it was announced today exclusively during Warner Bros. Discovery’s unveiling of the Max streaming service on the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles. 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?
Survive the Raft is produced for Discovery by Critical Content.
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