HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer service debuting in spring 2020, announced a smattering of content deals during the studio’s Television Critics Association day.
The service has greenlighted the three-part animated miniseries Aquaman: King of Atlantis that will be executive produced by James Wan (Aquaman and the upcoming Malignant) through his Atomic Monster production company. Based on the classic DC character created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, each of the standalone episodes will have a unique storyline following the adventures of Aquaman as protector of the deep.
“This DC property is a fan favorite rich with well-known characters and dynamic storylines,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, in a statement. “On the heels of Warner Bros. Pictures’ box office smash hit, we are certain Aquaman: King of Atlantis will be an exciting addition to our already robust slate of kids and family programming.”
At the same event WarnerMedia announced that filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has signed a three-year deal to develop content for both HBO Max and HBO, which shall be exclusive in all forms of television and a first-look for features. Soderbergh’s first project with HBO Max is the previously announced feature Let Them All Talk, starring Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges and Gemma Chan. It’s the story of a celebrated author (Streep) who takes a journey with some old friends to have some fun and heal old wounds. The film will launch on HBO Max in 2020.
“This arrangement grew out of talks Michael Sugar and I were having with Sarah Aubrey during the negotiations for Let Them All Talk, and there were four things tractor-beaming me toward this deal: One, I have a history with both HBO and Warner Bros.; two, my definition of a good product, a good process, and a good working culture is shared by the WarnerMedia family; three, the wide range of potential outlets aligns with my range of interests, and four: I get to witness and participate in the building of something new at a very large scale. Oh, and there is a financial aspect, so that’s probably five,” said Soderbergh.
“Steven is a groundbreaking filmmaker who not only tells unique, irresistible stories, but is also a master of so many genres,” said Aubrey. “In many ways, he is the anti-algorithm constantly surprising, never predictable and his career is living proof that one gifted filmmaker can impact our culture again and again. I can’t wait for the projects that we’re working on together to premiere on HBO Max.”
“From Behind the Candelabra, to The Knick and Mosaic, we know first-hand that Steven Soderbergh’s creative genius knows no bounds,” said Casey Bloys, president, HBO programming. “An indefatigable innovator, we couldn’t be more excited to continue our relationship with Steven and provide a home for his future projects.”
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The service has also ordered eight episodes of “The Event,” an unscripted documentary series featuring a look behind the scenes of events created by Wolfgang Puck Catering and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck.
“Wolfgang is one of the most accomplished chefs of our time and for decades has been the go-to restaurateur and caterer for the biggest names and events in Hollywood and across the country,”said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max, and president of TNT, TBS and TruTV. “This series will usher viewers into a world of opulence and luxury and showcase the unpredictable challenges he and his team encounter while executing the biggest and most exclusive A-list events we all wish we were invited to.”
“We are really excited to share a behind the scenes look at planning our most creative and complicated events with HBO Max subscribers,” said Puck.
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In addition, HBO Max has greenlit writer-director Adam McKay’s “The Uninhabitable Earth,” an anthology series inspired by David Wallace-Wells’ best-selling book and New York Magazine article of the same name. It will be comprised of stand-alone fictional stories covering a wide range of genres and possible futures that could result from the rapid warming of our planet. McKay (The Big Short), who recently closed a five-year, overall television deal with HBO and HBO Max, is attached to write and direct the first episode.
“Adam is one of the rare artists who can deliver a pointed, impactful message in a piece of great entertainment,” said Reilly. “I can’t wait to see what he does with this material, as there is no timelier and more relevant message than a wake-up call on climate change and the growing impact on our lives.”
“I’ve been chomping at the bit to get this show going. I’m very happy that HBO Max stepped up and made the commitment. There’s obviously no subject as vast and daunting,” said McKay.