Warner Bros and HBO Max said Wednesday that they have created Warner Max, a new film label that will serve as the feature production arm of the streaming service that’s launching in May.
The new joint venture will have a target of releasing eight to 10 mid-budget movies per year, overseen by HBO Max’s chief content officer Kevin Reilly and Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich, who are sharing greenlight responsibility for Warner Max films and will work in collaboration with Warner Bros Pictures Group COO Carolyn Blackwood and HBO Max Head of Original Content Sarah Aubrey.
Warner Bros and New Line Cinema will continue to create mid-budget fare for the traditional theatrical window, while Warner Max will create a new pipeline for filmmakers looking to make a particular type of film or connect with a specific audience that would be best reached in the streaming environment. The first Warner Max titles will premiere on the service in 2020 (yet to be determined), and Warner Bros will be responsible for distribution of these titles in all other media and territories beyond the HBO Max SVOD window.
Will Warner Max titles receive a truncated theatrical release similar to Netflix and Amazon titles? And by that we mean, limited theatrical releases over a shortened window before hitting HBO Max? That’s to be determined. At this point in time the label is focusing on making original films for the streaming service.
New Line said last year that it was taking the Melissa McCarthy comedy Superintelligence to HBO Max, and on Monday the streamer announced it was taking rights to Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick’s Sundance documentary On the Record about Russell Simmons’ accusers. At this point in time, it’s not evident that those titles will be released under the Warner Max label.
Overall, the new partnership will take advantage of the WarnerMedia organization’s vast feature film expertise, library, resources and relationships, with Warner Max tapping Warner Bros Pictures infrastructure including physical production.
Jessie Henderson, EVP Original Feature Films for HBO Max, will expand her role to serve as the day-to-day head of the label and liaison between HBO Max and Warner Bros. Pictures Group and jointly report to Aubrey and Blackwood. Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of Warner Bros, and Warner Media Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer Chairman Robert Greenblatt made announcement today.
“From the get-go we have been strategizing with Toby and Carolyn about HBO Max original films,” said Reilly. “We are going to deliver a collaborative and lean process for talent, make a range of quality films, and provide a platform for each of them to have cultural impact. Now, HBO Max will be home to a robust collection of the legendary Warner Bros film library and a new slate of original WarnerMax films.”
Added Emmerich: “Working with Kevin, Sarah, Jessie and their teams, we’re committed to creating dynamic and compelling films that draw on the depth and scope of the creative resources across WarnerMedia. We’re excited to help make HBO Max a destination for both film-lovers and the creative community, while delivering a win across the entire WarnerMedia organization.”
Said Aubrey: “Warner Bros. Pictures Group has long been the gold standard for filmmaker driven storytelling. We are proud to be in in the features business with them and continue that legacy on our SVOD platform. Warner Max gives us a special opportunity to continue cultivating this style of rich and diverse storytelling and it couldn’t be in better hands than with our head of features, Jessie Henderson, who’s built her career in this space.”
Blackwood added, “It’s been great collaborating with our colleagues at HBO Max to take full advantage of our shared strategic advantages and creative expertise to make Warner Max a competitive player in the original SVOD film space from day one.”
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