Warner Bros., HBO Max unveil new production division for ‘mid-budget movies’

WarnerMedia has launched a new film label that that will serve as the feature production arm of forthcoming streamer HBO Max.

Warner Max is described as a “unique joint venture between one of Hollywood’s most successful movie studios and its sister company HBO Max,” promising “a steady stream of high-quality and highly curated original films” for the streamer.

The companies are aiming to produce between eight to 10 mid-budget movies per year, with HBO Max’s chief content officer Kevin Reilly and chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, Toby Emmerich, overseeing the new JV.

Kevin Reilly

The duo will share greenlight responsibility for Warner Max films and will work in collaboration with senior executives including Carolyn Blackwood, COO at Warner Bros. Pictures Group, and Sarah Aubrey, head of original contentm at 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, reporting to Aubrey and Blackwood.

The partnership will see Warner Max utilising existing Warner Bros. Pictures infrastructure, including physical production, to 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 titles in all other media and territories beyond the HBO Max SVOD window. Despite the deal, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema will continue to create mid-budget fare for traditional theatrical distribution.

LR: Aubrey and Dewey

Reilly, chief content officer at HBO Max and president of TNT, TBS, & truTV, said: “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 WarnerMax films.”

Aubrey added: “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.”

HBO Max is set to launch Stateside this spring with 10,000 hours of content, including 50 shows commissioned exclusively for the streamer and a further 30 originals taken from HBO. Audrey and Sandra Dewey, president of business operations and productions, told TBI late last year that the service would be looking for co-production opportunities with companies around the world.

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