HBO Max’s heavily anticipated Friends reunion special will be delayed as production across Hollywood shuts down amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Hollywood Reporter. There is no estimated release date at this time, but a company spokesperson told AdWeek that “at this point, we anticipate launching HBO Max with the Friends Reunion Special.” It’s seemingly all dependent on how long studios continue to delay productions.
The special, which would reunite original cast members Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Courtney Cox (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), David Schwimmer (Ross), Matthew Perry (Chandler), and Matt LeBlanc (Joey), was a launch title for WarnerMedia’s new streaming service, HBO Max. The cast is set to “earn more than double their former per-episode fee for the reunion and be paid between $2.5 million and $3 million for the special,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The one-time special was reportedly set to film between March 23rd and March 24th, but as multiple sets and productions shut down around the world in an attempt to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, production of the Friends reunion was halted, too. It will now reportedly film in May at the earliest.
The Friends special is a pretty big deal for HBO Max. It marked the first time the cast would reunite on screen together since the show went off the air in 2004. Having the special at launch in May could have led to an increase in initial subscribers for HBO Max. It’s the type of event programming that streamers are looking for — a type of high-profile series that Disney Plus found in The Mandalorian and Netflix found with Stranger Things and more recently with Love is Blind.
HBO Max will also be the exclusive streaming home for Friends. The show was available to stream on Netflix up until January 1st. WarnerMedia paid an estimated $425 million for the rights to the series. WarnerMedia hasn’t said if HBO Max’s launch will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
HBO Max, set to launch in May, will combine HBO’s archive of celebrated programming with new shows and films, alongside Warner Bros. movies and new original series. It’s set to launch at $14.99 a month — the current price of HBO Now — making it one of the higher priced services. Netflix’s most popular plan is $12.99 a month, while Disney Plus is $6.99 a month and Apple TV Plus comes in at $4.99 a month.
Update March 18th, 7:28PM ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from WarnerMedia regarding the launch of HBO Max and the Friends reunion special.