FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2002, file photo the cast of television's "Friends", from left: Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox Arquette, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer appear during the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. AT&T is pulling “Friends” from Netflix to beef up its own upcoming streaming service. The wireless company, which owns the WarnerMedia entertainment business, said Tuesday, July 9, 2019, that its service will be called HBO Max. It will launch widely in spring of 2020.
Photo: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File
Photo: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File

‘Friends’ going to WarnerMedia’s new HBO Max streaming service in 2020

The sturdy sitcom has been among Netflix’s most popular viewing options, which is why the company spent $80 million to keep its 243 episodes on the service for 2019 alone. 

But Warner Bros. Television owns the rights to “Friends” and wants it for the company’s own competing streaming service. 

HBO Max will include all of HBO’s films, TV series and documentaries, original HBO Max programming plus content from the Atlanta-based networks of CNN, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, truTV, TBS and TNT.

Pricing has not yet been announced as HBO Max prepares to compete with Netflix, Hulu and Disney+, to name a few. It’s also unclear how this will impact the current HBO streaming option HBO Now. 

HBO Max will be available by late 2019 and in full-fledged form by the spring of 2020. 
Greg Berlanti, creator of “Riverdale,” “You” and “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” will release four films for HBO Max. Reese Witherspoon’s production company has committed to two. 

Two new CW shows “Batwoman” and “Riverdale” spin-off “Katy Keane” will be on HBO Max as well. 

Since the merger, AT&T has committed far more money to HBO than TBS or TNT. HBO has boosted original programming spending 50% over “normal spending” leading to the launch of HBO Max. 

Here’s a sampling of original programming slated for HBO Max:

  • “Dune: The Sisterhood,” an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s book Dune, from director Denis Villeneuve
  • “Tokyo Vice,” based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat starring Ansel Elgort
  • “The Flight Attendant,” a one-hour thriller series based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian, which will star Kaley Cuoco, who is also executive producing alongside Greg Berlanti
  • “Love Life,” a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring “Pitch Perfect” star Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig
  • “Station Eleven,” a postapocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somerville and directed by Hiro Murai
  • “Made for Love,” a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, also from Somerville and directed by S.J. Clarkson
  • “Gremlins,” an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie

And HBO shows include a couple shooting in Atlanta:

  • Stephen King’s “The Outsider,” a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman
  • “Lovecraft Country,” a unique horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams

And other HBO shows in the pipeline:

  • “The Nevers,” Joss Whedon’s new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly
  • “The Gilded Age,” the opulent world of 1885 New York from “Downton Abbey’s” Julian Fellowes
  • “Avenue 5,” high satire aboard a space-bound cruise ship from Armando Iannucci (“Veep”), starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad
  • “The Undoing,” a psychological thriller from David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant
  • “The Plot Against America,” reimagined history based on Phillip Roth’s novel written and executiveproducedby DavidSimonandEdBurns,starringWinonaRyderandJohnTurturro
  • “Perry Mason,” the classic legal drama for a new generation, executive produced by Robert Downey, Jr. and Susan Downey, with Matthew Rhys in the title role
  • “I Know This Much Is True,” a complex family drama starring Mark Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one of whom has schizophrenia, based on the best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.

About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.