At a time in which traditional entertainment media conglomerates must battle with deep-pocketed giants of the technology industry, AT&T’s WarnerMedia is readying itself for a distinctly new future. Spearheading the company’s leap into this new era is its forthcoming streaming service, HBO Max, which will arrive in May 2020 at the potentially brilliant price of $14.99 per month.
Casual fans and industry observers alike have spotted the price tags on HBO Max’s impressive spending spree for attractive legacy programming such as Friends ($425 million over five years) and The Big Bang Theory (billions of dollars). This is fair as HBO Max will draw from the vast WarnerMedia conglomerate—which includes Warner Bros., TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network and more—to round out its roster with more than 10,000 hours of programming at launch. But while existing programming contributes to customer retention and churn rates, it is original content that drives subscription growth.
On that front, HBO Max has a handful of exciting projects in development. Here are our five most-anticipated.
This 10-episode post-apocalyptic limited series drama is based on the Emily St. John Mandel bestseller of the same name and hails from Maniac creator and The Leftovers producer Patrick Somerville. Atlanta and Barry breakout filmmaker Hiro Murai will direct. Right off the bat, that’s an impressive duo of behind-the-scenes talent.
On the page, Station Eleven reads like elevated disaster material as the book tracks the past, present and future of a devastating outbreak that decimates most of the world’s population. It has an understated philosophical element that is well suited to the prestige TV era. Imagine a grounded mix between Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and Stephen King’s The Stand.
Casting has already begun, though it’s unlikely that Station Eleven will be ready in time for HBO Max’s May 2020 launch.
2005’s The Boondocks depicted and presaged the nation’s most roiling cultural issues as creator Aaron McGruder crafted an immaculate anime dedicated to both hilarity and introspection. All 55 episodes of the beloved original will be available on HBO Max at launch, while two reimagined seasons consisting of 24 episodes and a 50-minute special have been ordered for the streamer.
“There’s a unique opportunity to revisit the world of The Boondocks and do it over again for today,” McGruder said ina statement at the time of the show’s announcement. “It’s crazy how different the times we live in are now—both politically and culturally—more than a decade past the original series and two decades past the original newspaper comic. There’s a lot to say and it should be fun.”
The new Boondocks follows the adventures of self-proclaimed “Civil Rights Legend” Robert “Granddad” Freeman, and his two rambunctious grandsons Huey and Riley. The family has recently moved to an idyllic community in suburban Maryland only to see it taken over by the tyrannical Uncle Ruckus and his bizarre neo-fascist regime. Life under Ruckus turns out to be an everyday struggle to survive.
Dune: The Sisterhood
Warner Bros. has high hopes for Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival director Denis Villeneuve’s planned two-film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel series Dune. It’s being positioned as the rare prestige blockbuster that gobbles up box office dollars and critical acclaim.
In a sign that suggests the studio is pleased with the early returns, HBO Max has greenlit a female-focused spinoff that explores Herbert’s future universe through a group of powerful women known as the Bene Gesserit. Together, they pursue a mysterious agenda while wading into the interstellar political feuds that dominate a star-crossed society of the future.
Villeneuve will direct the pilot and executive produce.
Raised by Wolves
Announced last week, Raised by Wolves marks Ridley Scott’s serialized TV debut behind the camera. The series was originally picked up at TNT but now moves to HBO Max. The 10-episode sci-fi drama follows two androids that must raise human children on a mysterious planet as conflict between surrounding religious colonies threaten to destroy the carefully erected world.
“As we strive to set a high creative bar for HBO Max, there’s no better person to set that bar than Ridley Scott as he delivers his first season of yet another incredible vision realized,” Kevin Reilly, chief content officer at HBO Max and president of TBS, TNT and truTV, announced at WarnerMedia presentation to investors last week.
Raised by Wolves will be overseen by Prisoners scribe Aaron Guzikowski.
Acclaimed action director Michael Mann (Heat) will helm the pilot of Tokyo Vice, an upcoming drama that follows a journalist’s descent into Tokyo’s criminal underworld. Based on investigative journalist Jake Adelstein’s 2009 memoir, Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan, the series stars Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai). Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy) will take over directing duties after the pilot.
Playwright J.T. (Oslo) will serve as writer and executive producer. Production has already wrapped, meaning it could be ready in time for HBO Max’s launch.