A whole bunch of news poured out of the soon to launch HBO Max streaming service’s presentation at the Television Critics Association yesterday.
I already posted stories on the “Aquaman” animated mini-series, Adam McKay’s new drama, and more details shared about the upcoming “Green Lantern” TV series. However HBO Max chief Kevin Reilly and HBO President of Programming Casey Bloys also had updates on the “Game of Thrones” spin-off, “Friends” reunion, and big deals closed with a major filmmaker:
Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon
Bloys says the “Game of Thrones” straight-to-series spinoff “House of the Dragon” likely won’t premiere until 2022 at his ‘best guess’. The series is set 300 years before the events of ‘Thrones’ and tells the story of the rise of House Targaryen. In terms of its current status, he says the writers are “in the room breaking story right now”.
His Dark Materials
Bloys says the first season scored 5 million viewers per episode and it was the network’s biggest-ever “co-viewing series” (kids and parents watching together). The show was initially given a sixteen-episode, two-season order with the seasons adapting the first two books of the trilogy, but Bloys is open to further seasons.
Will we see a second season? Bloys says that’s entirely up to showrunner Damon Lindelof: “He is thinking about what he wants to do. Truly, I don’t know at this point whether it is a returning drama series or a limited series. I think one of the things Damon did so brilliantly was, he opened up this entire world. So maybe there is another version with a whole new set of characters. I don’t know because Damon doesn’t know, and I’m taking his lead on this. If it’s a season two – great, if it’s a new take on the world – great, if it’s something else completely, I’m just going take his lead.”
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has set up a deal with HBO Max to produce “The Event,” an eight-part unscripted documentary series for the forthcoming streaming service. Said hour-long series will go behind the scenes of the extraordinary events created by the legendary restaurateur’s catering company as they do events like the Academy Awards Oscars Party to the 10,000 guest Adobe MAXBash.
HBO Future Seasons
Bloys confirms there are no plans for more “Mrs. Fletcher,” they’re open to more “Big Little Lies” but everyone’s busy and so nothing is set, they are open to more “The Night Of” but it’s in early development at this point, and there’s no update on a possible fourth season of “True Detective”.
“Game of Thrones” executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ alternate-history sci-fi series “Confederate,” a series positing a future where the South did not lose the Civil War and slavery still exists as an institution in modern-day America, has been officially killed at last by HBO according to Bloys.
The “Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai” is targeting a 2021 release. The “Gremlins” animated series is set in 1920s Shanghai, long before the events of the first film, and will be penned by Tze Chun.
Now that all his work on “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is done, J.J. Abrams is turning his attention back to this sci-fi drama series which scored a series order two years ago. Bloys says: “he is starting to talk to people he wants to collaborate with”.
Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has closed a three-year overall with HBO and HBO Max and will develop content for both platforms which shall be exclusive in all forms of television and a first-look for films. Soderbergh is already set to direct the feature “Let Them All Talk” for the streamer, that film starring Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges, and Gemma Chan.
Reilly says the company is still “working out what the mechanics are” regarding the relationship between the niche DC-branded service and HBO Max which will house DC TV properties like “Doom Patrol”.
All 200-plus episodes of “Friends” will be on HBO Max at launch, and while there’s interest in a reunion special with the cast there is no real movement on it as yet as negotiations have reportedly stalled over financial differences. Asked about its fate, Reilly says: “There’s interest all the way around, and yet we can’t seem to get that interest aligned to push the button on it… Today, unfortunately, it’s a maybe”
The rights to the “Harry Potter” franchise remain tied up with NBCUniversal in a deal that doesn’t expire until 2025 so don’t expect those films on HBOMax in the near future. Reilly, however, says they’re determined to have “Harry Potter” on their service as soon as they can and are in ongoing discussions about it.