Streaming service HBO Max launched in the US in the middle of a global pandemic, which is a mixed blessing. Our time spent with streaming services is probably higher now than it's ever been – but it also means HBO Max launched without any killer originals to shout about.
Once upon a time, the plan was to launch with a reunion of the sitcom Friends, featuring the entire cast of the show. But now, that special likely won't release until later this year.
In a new interview, HBO Max's content head Sarah Aubrey commented on the Friends reunion special's status. When asked whether the cast were still worth the price given that the special didn't arrive at launch, Aubrey told THR: “We definitely think so. Of course, it would have been fun to have at launch, but I do not think it loses value whether they watch it next week or later in the year.”
How much later in the year, though? That part is unclear, but Aubrey doesn't sound optimistic about the once-touted filming date of August when asked about it by THR. “You're asking me to extrapolate what the conditions in LA are going to be in August, and that's a fool's errand.”
The film and TV industry has drafted up a White Paper on restarting production with careful health and safety guidelines, according to a report on Deadline, and shared that with the governors of California and New York. But an exact timeline for Hollywood getting back to work is still unclear.
It sounds like fans of the '90s sitcom hit have a while to wait, yet. May we suggest streaming old episodes of Seinfeld instead?
The background of the Friends reunion
One of HBO Max's biggest draws at launch was offering the complete 10 seasons of Friends to stream, and HBO Max's plan was to release a reunion special alongside that to get people excited about the service.
The deal with the cast to make the reunion was finalized in late February 2020, around three months before the launch of the new streaming service. Shortly after the deal was made, though, Hollywood went into lockdown. Things have been on hold ever since over the health crisis.
The reunion special won't be an in-universe episode of the show, though. Instead, it's ‘unscripted', which means it'll likely take the form of a series of interviews on the Burbank set where the show was made.