• Warner Bros and HBO Max launch Warner Max
  • New joint-venture announced to support HBO Max SVoD
  • Production arm to ensure “steady stream” of high-quality content

HBO max (Photo Hall shutterstock)

HBO Max: Launching production lab in partnership with Warner Bros. 

Source: Photo Hall / Shutterstock

WarnerMedia has unveiled a new film label that will serve as the feature production arm of HBO’s new streaming service HBO Max, which is due to launch in May.

Warner Max is a joint venture between Warner Bros Pictures Group and HBO Max – both part of AT&T-owned WarnerMedia.

The new joint-venture was described by the duo as a “unique” partnership between one of Hollywood’s largest movie studios and its sister company HBO Max, and will ensure that the new platform has a steady stream of high-quality and highly curated original films for its launch.

The feature film production arm was confirmed by Ann Sarnoff, chair and chief executive of Warner Bros, and WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer chairman Robert Greenblatt.

HBO Max head of original content Sarah Aubrey said: “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.

“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.”

WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering HBO Max is set to debut this spring with 10,000 hours of curated premium content expected at launch, offering consumers a “powerhouse” of programming for everyone.

The initial target is eight to 10 mid-budget movies per year with the new partnership 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 chief operating officer of Warner Bros Pictures Group and HBO Max’s Aubrey.

Jessie Henderson, executive vice president 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 Bros Pictures Group COO Carolyn Blackwood said: “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.”

This new joint-venture will take advantage of the WarnerMedia organisation’s vast feature film expertise, library, resources, and relationships, with Warner Max utilising 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.

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.

Warner Bros Pictures Group chairman Tony Emmerich added: “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 Warner Media.

“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 Warner Media organisation.”