February 5, 2020
Warner Bros. has unveiled Warner Max, a new film label that will serve as the feature production arm of upcoming SVOD service HBO Max.
“This unique joint venture between one of Hollywood’s most successful movie studios and its sister company HBO Max, which launches in May, will ensure that the new platform has a steady stream of high-quality and highly curated original films,” read a WarnerMedia press release.
The new arm was announced by Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of Warner Bros., and Warner Media Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Robert Greenblatt.
With an initial target of eight to 10 mid-budget movies per year, the new joint venture will be overseen by HBO Max’s chief content officer Kevin Reilly and chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group Toby Emmerich, who share greenlight responsibility for Warner Max films and will work in close collaboration with senior executives Carolyn Blackwood (COO, Warner Bros. Pictures Group) and Sarah Aubrey (head of original content, HBO Max). Jessie Henderson, EVP of 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.
Warner Max will utilize existing Warner Bros. Pictures infrastructure, including physical production. Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema will continue to create mid-budget fare for traditional theatrical distribution, 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,” according to the press release.
The first Warner Max titles will premiere on the service in 2020, and Warner Bros. will be responsible for distribution of these titles in all other media and territories beyond the HBO Max SVOD window.
“From the get-go we have been strategizing with Toby and Carolyn about HBO Max original films,” Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max, and president of TNT, TBS and truTV, said in a statement. “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 Warner Max films.”
“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,” Emmerich said in a statement. “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.”
“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,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, said in a statement. “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.”
“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,” Blackwood said in a statement.