HBO Max Is Now “Max,” and It’s All in On Prequels, Spinoffs and Revivals

The rebranded streamer is emphasizing the likes of "Harry Potter" and "Game of Thrones"

JB Perrette, Warner Bros. Discovery's president and CEO of streaming
JB Perrette, Warner Bros. Discovery's president and CEO of streaming
Jeff Kravitz/Warner Bros. Discovery

Are you ready for more of everything you know and love (or maybe just know and tolerate)? Congratulations, you are the primary audience target for Max, the rebranded HBO Max service that goes live on May 23. Out: originality. In: spinoffs, continuations and remakes of existing IP, including new iterations of Harry Potter, The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones.

“We’re not a giant, undifferentiated blob of programming,” said Casey Bloys, the head of HBO and Max originals (per Hollywood Reporter) after the new Max announcements were made earlier this week, and, well, we’d have to disagree.

Because Max is the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery+, losing the “HBO” branding is fair: Max is supposed to have a wider audience reach, and one that is apparently less “high-brow.” But the new Max seems to be doing what Peacock, Disney+ and Paramount+ have already done to varying degrees of success: taking existing concepts from the company library and updating them. This week, the Max team touted the latest True Detective, the Batman spinoff The Penguin, a second Game of Thrones prequel, a yet-to-be-revealed second spinoff of The Big Bang Theory and, for no creative reason whatsoever, a 10-season adaptation of the Harry Potter novels, overseen by apparently not-canceled author J.K. Rowling as an executive producer.

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Less hyped are two new mini-series, The Regime  and The Sympathizer, that have no ties to pre-existing Warner Discovery content. In other words, two series that could offer us what shows like Succession or Barry provide: fresh ideas.

One upside is that HBO (on its own) can maybe go back to being the elevated creative space it was meant to be. “HBO is not TV. HBO is HBO,” said JB Perrette, Warner Bros. Discovery’s president and CEO of streaming. “It needs to stay that way, which is why we will privilege it in the product experience and also not push it to the breaking point by forcing it to take on the full breadth of this new content proposition.”

Tiers of Max, launching May 23, will range from $10-$20 per month, depending on ads, download ability and picture quality.

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