A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
HBO Max revealed. ALSO: HBO passes on Game of Thrones prequel.
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett
Today’s ABW newsletter is out a bit later than usual - blame the HBO Max announcement event which only got started at 6pm in New York (9am Sydney time). I’ll have an HBO Max wrap at the bottom of this email….
When AT&T purchased HBO, there was a mandate that the network increase its output. The concern raised by many was that the high quality bar set by HBO would give way to greenlighting projects that were less than worthy.
And with that in mind, it seemed almost a certainty that the prequel series to Game of Thrones (one of TV’s biggest success stories) was going to go into production as a series.
The pilot to Game of Thrones, starring Naomi Watts, was filmed - but today HBO has announced that it will not be moving forward with it. At this stage, other Game of Thrones spin-off series are believed to be moving forward either.
With Apple TV+ rolling out at the end of the week, there was no way that Disney would allow Apple to completely dominate the news cycle. As part of a large Disney+ promotional blitz that kicked off in the US, the house of mouse dropped a new trailer for The Mandalorian:
Speaking of Star Wars, former Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss were set to produce a trilogy of Star Wars films kicking off in 2022. Today they confirmed news that they will no longer be working on the movies, focused instead on their Netflix production deal.
Ultimately the writing was on the wall when Marvel producer Kevin Feige announced that he’d also be working on Star Wars properties in addition to running Marvel. It seemed unlikely that both sets of creators would be working together.
I’m obsessed with new HBO drama Watchmen and have been wondering whether Lou Gossett Jr’s character Will is potentially the former vigilante/hero Hooded Justice.
A YouTuber goes deep into this theory:
Netflix drama Another Life has been picked up for a second season. Back on episode 21 of the Always Be Watching podcast, (if my memory serves correctly) I mentioned that the show has a promising start, but lost its way by the end of the pilot episode - while the show isn’t good, there’s definitely an audience for it. Well, it appears there was enough of an audience to commission a second season.
My assumption has long been that in the paid streaming space, the big guys will be:
Netflix | Disney+/Hulu | Amazon Prime Video | Apple TV+ | HBO Max
So, today’s announcement about the shape that HBO Max would take and its plans going forward is the final piece of the puzzle. Now we know what to expect…
There was quite a bit of news, but the biggest takeaways:
The service will launch in May 2020.
HBO Max says it is prioritising international expansion in Latin America and Europe where it already has HBO services. Will leverage partner relationships in other territories.
Don’t expect a huge catalogue of TV shows on there. I’d hoped for a lot of WB classic shows, but the focus seems to be on new series, well-known classics, and its movie library. There’ll be 1800 movie titles in the first year.
The volume of new content coming through HBO Max is incredible. It’s practically more than one new series debuting each week.
Not answered is how HBO Max will impact upon Australia - ultimately, that’ll depend on how the next negotiation goes with Foxtel. The two wildcards there: Foxtel facing some money woes and competitor Stan as a shark circling in the water. (I’d put money on Foxtel renewing).
I’m going to have a lot more detail in tomorrow’s newsletter with a wrap of all the new original content announced and how the market reacts to the reveal today.
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