HBO Max will launch in May 2020 at a price point of $14.99, WarnerMedia said at its investor day presentation on Tuesday. Current HBO subscribers will be migrated to the new service.
The service is aiming to have 50 million domestic subscribers by the end of 2025 and 75 to 90 million global subscribers—including domestic—by that same date. HBO Max also expects to launch an ad-supported service (AVOD) in 2021.
HBO Max does not plan to drop full seasons of series at once as Netflix pioneered when it launched House of Cards in 2013. Instead, it will stick with HBO’s successful formula of airing just one episode per week.
The heart of the service is HBO, which has such shows on the air as Succession, Barry, The Righteous Gemstones and Westworld. Many more are coming, including dramedy Run from Phoebe Waller-Bridge starring Waller-Bridge, Merritt Weaver and Domhnall Gleason; The Outsider based on the Stephen King novel and produced and directed by Jason Bateman; The Undoing from Nicole Kidman and David E. Kelley and starring Kidman, Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland; and Lovecraft Country from Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot.
Overall, the service has 38 new and returning series lined up for 2020 and another 50 for 2021, said Casey Bloys, HBO’s president of programming. In 2021, HBO has such series coming as Julian Fellowes’ The Gilded Age; Joss Whedon’s The Nevers; and Mare of Easttown, executive produced by starring multiple Oscar winner Kate Winslet.
HBO Max is in development on three original series from three prominent female creators: Elizabeth Banks with DC Super Hero High; Issa Rae with Rap Sh*t (working title) and College Girls (working title) from Mindy Kaling. Greg Berlanti, who currently oversees 25 TV shows including many in the DC universe, is developing two new shows for HBO Max: Strange Adventures and a series inspired by Green Lantern.
Several new original adult series also will be joining the service, many of which are based on best-selling books. Station 11 will star Mackenzie Davis and Himesh Patel. Circe, a reimagining of the Greek creator of myth, was ordered to series this summer. Americanah, from Lupita Nyong’o and Dani Guirira, was given a straight-to-series order last month. And original series Raised by Wolves, which comes from Ridley Scott and stars Viking‘s Travis Fimmel, is moving to HBO Max from TNT.
Although word leaked on Tuesday that HBO has passed on the Game of Thrones prequel starring Naomi Watts, Bloys closed out the programming portion of the program by announcing that the network had placed a straight-to-series order for a show called House of the Dragon based on George R. R. Martin’s Fire and Blood, a history of Westeros’ powerful Targaryen family. House of the Dragon is created by and executive produced by Martin as well as famed Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik and Colony’s Ryan Condal. Condal and Martin are writing the pilot episode and Condal is co-showrunning with Sapochnik. Vince Gerardis will also executive produce.
Beyond live action, HBO Max plans to stick with animation, an area in which WarnerMedia is heavily invested.
As reported earlier this month, HBO Max is adding South Park to its offerings, where Comedy Central’s veteran potty-mouthed cartoon will join such off-network comedy legends as Friends and The Big Bang Theory. All 23 seasons of the animated series will be available on HBO Max starting in June 2020 with three new seasons to follow. Warner Media acquired the series for $500 to $550 million, Variety reported, which is in line with what other major off-net series have fetched from SVOD services recently.
Along those lines, HBO Max also will include three seasons of Adult Swim’s cult hit, Rick & Morty, with upcoming new episodes and seasons to join after first premiering on Adult Swim. Shows such as The Boondocks and Robot Chicken; anime programming from WarnerMedia-owned Crunchyroll; and Ghibli Studio’s Oscar-winning animated movies, such as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, all also will be available the service.
Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios both are providing content to HBO Max, including all-new Looney Tunes Cartoons and a new Jellystone series from Hanna-Barbera. Both of those classic animation libraries will also be available on the service. Two new series from Cartoon Network—The Fungies! and Tig N’ Seek—have been greenlit, while a hybrid live-action and animated series from Robert Zemeckis is in development.