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 sets a date.
ALSO: Fraggle Rock is back. AND: No new Bold & The Beautiful
HBO Max will officially launch on May 27 in the US at a price of US$14.99 per month. You will see reports comparing it to the $6.99 per month cost of Disney+, but the services are operating at completely different scales. HBO Max will be producing a heck of a lot more original TV shows and movies than Disney+.
The announcement came with some trailers for upcoming originals:
Corporate owners AT&T will offer HBO Max for free to tens of millions of its telco subscribers, giving the new streaming service a strong start. This achieves two things for AT&T:
An immediate subscriber base for HBO Max (which will also include existing HBO subscribers)
Incentive to choose AT&T as a phone/Internet provider and reduce subscriber churn - part of the reason why AT&T purchased what is now rebranded as WarnerMedia to begin with.
Related: Will Not Too Late with Elmo on HBO Max become the most essential late night talk show on TV? No word yet on whether Tom Hanks will make an appearance, but it might be the first talk show appearance by Batman as a guest…
The eyes of the TV production world are on Neighbours as it re-opens production this week. These are the security measures being put in place:
The studio space has been divided into quadrants, with three production teams isolated from each other and only three actors allowed to cross between the groups. If someone gets sick, only the group whose member is affected will be suspended and the shoot can continue with the other two groups.
There will be a nurse on set, and everyone entering the site will have their temperatures checked
Male actors will have no make-up, female actors will not be touched up
There will be no physical contact between actors including kissing, holding hands or intimate scenes
Actors will also practice social distancing, with camera trickery used to make them look closer together
There will be be no outside extras, with crew members already on set doubling as background performers
Thursday April 23. That is when The Young and The Restless and Bold and The Beautiful run out of new episodes in the US. CBS will air themed weeks airing classic episodes and other related specials. No doubt eyes are on Neighbours and how it resumes production this week, making way for similar soaps internationally to resume production.
The TV adaptation of Sandman was nearing production when the stupid virus hit. As per creator Neil Gaiman:
“It’s going really well, except it’s kind of hibernating right now until people start making TV again. The scripts for the first season are written, casting had started, directors hired, sets were being built.
Everything was ready to go into production, and then we moved into a pause. As soon as the world is ready to make TV drama, Sandman will move smoothly back into being made.”
Netflix released its Q1 earnings report. It claims 64 million households watched Tiger King, 85 million watched movie Spencer Confidential, and 65 million watched s4 of Money Heist. But considering the Netflix version of a show being ‘watched’ is a viewer watching 2 minutes or more, I’m not really putting much stock at all into those figures.
What is more interesting and accurate is that this quarter Netflix added 15.77 million subscribers, reaching 182.9 million paid subscribers globally. That’s 22.8% more than this time last year.
WarnerMedia are bypassing cinemas entirely for the release of animated film Scoob! - it will now debut direct to digital on May 15 for US$19.99. There’s no word on international pricing (or even a release) yet.
I do wonder how quickly it’ll then launch on HBO Max…