Earlier this week, Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav announced a new streaming service called Max that will combine the offerings of HBO Max and Discovery+.
The service will launch on May 23 and Zaslav announced a slew of details, including new pricing tiers, a new tagline — “the one to watch” — and a color change from purple to blue. Max will also feature a simpler user interface, a new content navigation menu, and additional content curation. Most HBO Max subscribers will see their apps automatically update to the new Max app on Launch Day, though some may be prompted to download the Max app.
Max will serve as the home of Warner Bros. movies, HBO originals, Max originals, the DC universe, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, kids’ content, and reality shows from a variety of top brands, such as HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, and Discovery Channel. It will feature an average of more than 40 new titles and seasons of television every month.
WBD also announced a new Harry Potter series, though it’s unclear whether that will be exclusive to Max subscribers, or if it will air on HBO for cable subscribers. For more details on that series and other newsy nuggets to come out of WBD’s presentation, read below:
Casey Bloys, chairman/CEO of HBO & Max Content, confirmed that a Harry Potter TV series is in the works that will “dive deep into each of the [seven] iconic books” from controversial author J.K. Rowling, who will be involved in the series, which will be “a faithful adaptation,” according to Bloys.
Bloys noted that the series will run for “10 consecutive years,” though there are only seven books, and Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts trilogy is not expected to play any role in the Harry Potter show, which would arrive in late 2025/early 2026 — the sooner the better for WBD boss Zaslav.
Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley will all be recast, but before WBD starts its search for young actors, it has to attach a writer and showrunner first — that’s the streamer’s top priority. Especially with a writer’s strike looming. Of course, anything could happen so long as there’s enough money involved. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that Emma Watson would be the most difficult to convince to return, particularly given some of Rowling’s inflammatory statements regarding transgender issues — statements that Bloys declined to discuss this week, calling it “a very online conversation, very nuanced and complicated and not something we’re going to get into.”
“Our priority is what’s on the screen,” he concluded, adding that Rowling’s “insights are going to be helpful.”
Indeed, Rowling has creative control over her work, and she’s an executive producer on this series along with her literary agent Neil Blair, as well as Ruth Kenley-Letts and David Heyman, the latter of whom is still negotiating his deal after producing the blockbuster film franchise.
“Max’s commitment to preserving the integrity of my books is important to me, and I’m looking forward to being part of this new adaptation which will allow for a degree of depth and detail only afforded by a long-form television series,” Rowling said in a statement.
Bloys, for his part, seems ready to spend “whatever it takes” to deliver Max its next Game of Thrones-level hit, saying that he imagines the Harry Potter series “will be that scale or higher.” Perhaps he’ll give Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series a run for its money.
Zaslav and his family have a personal connection to Rowling’s books and if the Harry Potter series is a success, it could yield multiple spinoffs, which WBD is able to do under its deal with the author.
New Pricing Tiers
- Max Ad Light – $9.99 a month, or $99.99 a year. Two concurrent streams.
- Max Ad Free – $15.99 a month, or $149.99 a year. Two concurrent streams.
- Max Ultimate Ad Free – $19.99 a month, or $199.99 a year. Four concurrent streams, plus 4K.
Existing HBO Max subscribers will have access to whatever features they’re currently paying for at the exact same price for at least six months following the launch of Max, which will retain subscribers’ HBO Max profiles settings, including “continue watching” and “my list” functions, plus watch histories.
Meanwhile, the profitable streaming service Discovery+ will continue to operate as a standalone service that will cost $4.99 with ads, and $6.99 for an “ad-light” package. HBO Max is already among the most expensive streamers, as Netflix’s most popular plan in the U.S. costs $15.49 a month.
Warner Bros. released trailers for its DC series The Penguin starring Colin Farrell; True Detective: Night Country starring two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster and rising star Kali Reis; and the ambitious HBO series The Sympathizer, which features Robert Downey Jr. in multiple roles. The Sympathizer doesn’t arrive until 2024, but True Detective will return to HBO later this year, while The Penguin is bound for Max. We also got an early look at Stephen Frears‘ new series The Regime starring Kate Winslet. Take a look at all four below.