As Warner Bros. prepares to be the next upcoming contender in the Streaming Wars, the focus is on content. They’ve nabbed beloved classics like Friends, South Park, and Sesame Street for the service. They also have the Warner Bros. and HBO back catalog and classic films. Yet, as the success of The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda fever proves, the real money is in originals. They have a slate of original series and films already scheduled for launch. Yet, a new report says that Warner Bros. created Warner Max, a film production company exclusively for HBO Max. (They are really sticking with this “Max” branding, huh?”
To be honest, this move isn’t all that surprising. Netflix and Disney+ are all-in on producing original films. Netflix threw their money behind marquee filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese. Disney+ looks to their big brands like Star Wars, Marvel, and newly-purchased 20th Century Fox films to remake. So, what will Warner Bros. want Warner Max to focus on for HBO Max? There are certain to be plenty of original and grounded films. But Warner Max could dip into the DC Universe and create films and series as Marvel Studios and Netflix did with their collaboration. Lower-tier characters, like Lobo who almost had a Krypton spin-off at SyFy, could appear in movies they wouldn’t want to put out on the big-screen. They’ve already done it with Doom Patrol a critical darling from DC Universe.
Why Warner Max and HBO Max Are the Perfect Places for Warner Bros. to Put DC Characters
Image via DCWarner Bros. and HBOMax create Warner Max for Exclusive Streaming Films
As the Crisis on Infinite Earths finale on the CW showed, they can do superheroes on a smaller budget. In fact, many DC fans will say that the Arrowverse is a better shared universe than the DC Extended Universe was, especially considering all the Snyder Cut drama. Warner Max will be responsible for about eight or 10 mid-budget movies (from $25 million to $75million budgets) per year. Considering the first-ever billion-dollar R-rated film, Joker, had a $60 million budget, there is plenty storytellers can do for Warner Max. Also, these films will not interrupt or conflict with Warner Bros. or New Line films, because the top people at each company are involved.
As Variety reports about the executive hierarchy:
“Warner Max will be overseen by HBO Max’s chief content officer Kevin Reilly and Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich, who will share greenlight responsibilities. They will work in collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures COO Carolyn Blackwood and HBO Max executive Sarah Aubrey. Jessie Henderson, executive VP of original feature films for HBO Max, will expand her role to serve as day-to-day head of the label and liasion between HBO Max and Warner Bros. She will report to Aubrey and Blackwood.”
With up to a $75 million budget, filmmakers can definitely tell a cinematic and effects-heavy story without the sort of pressure comic book films usually face. The Mandalorian is made on a budget of about $15 million per episode and holds up against any of the films. While they might not be able to pull off Aquaman, maybe HBO Max can do Green Lantern justice? There are plenty of “street-level” DC characters they could draw from.
In fact, a dedicated DC division in Warner Max might even be able to do what Marvel Television did with The Defenders or even what Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim did for the Arrowverse. They can introduce a few standalone movies and then have a team-up. They could possibly do Justice League: Dark, not worrying about MPAA rating. The possibilities are endless as the deep roster of DC characters.
What do you think? Will Warner Bros. and HBO Max use Warner Max to develop DC properties that may not have large box office draw? Should they even try? Tell us in the comments!
Featured image via screengrab.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.