The COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended the film and television industry, with many productions shut down for the foreseeable future. Because of that, the landscape of television is expected to look very different in the months to come, both on conventional TV and on streaming services. According to a new report, this shift will even impact one of the newest streaming services to enter the game -- HBO Max. John Stephens, the CFO of WarnerMedia owner AT&T, recently talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the forthcoming service, which is set to launch on May 27th. As Stephens revealed, the pandemic did lead to shutdowns of some of HBO Max's original content, and will realistically cause delays in release dates. Stephens did add that production shutdowns do help preserve cash, "so will see what this balance is."
To an extent, those who have been following the ins-and-outs of HBO Max probably saw this coming, as two Greg Berlanti-produced series on the service - Season 2 of Doom Patrol and Season 1 of The Flight Attendant, were confirmed to be shut down late last month. A handful of other series and films on the service were confirmed to be in pre-production, including a Gossip Girl revival and K-pop drama I'll Be the One. Granted, none of these projects had confirmed release dates, but it still means that fans will have to wait longer to see some of the original series and movies make their debut.
This is a problem that has also affected NBCUniversal's Peacock service, with a "significant amount" of productions confirmed to be delayed into 2021.
"We're all unclear when exactly things are going to go back to normal and we're going to be able to pick up where we left off with certain aspects of the original productions," Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, said last month. "We are very, very optimistic that there's a handful of originals that we will have. Brave New World is essentially done, Psych movie is also done and some of the reboots like Punky Brewster and Saved By The Bell, we feel optimistic that we can also have them available in 2020 as well as a few others."
Luckily, HBO Max is set to feature a pretty significant library of existing content, including programs from HBO, TBS, TNT, TruTV, CNN, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies and Adult Swim. It will also feature titles from The Criterion Collection, BBC Studios, and Studio Ghibli movies. The series also has a slew of original content in production, including Green Lantern and Strange Adventures TV series, Circe, Dune: The Sisterhood, and Grease: Rydell High.
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HBO Max is expected to launch on May 27th.