Warner Bros. Wants You to Think of HBO Before Max Again

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HBO Supercharges Its Streaming Lineup: "Lanterns" and Big-Budget DC Shows Get the "HBO Original" Stamp

In a move that signals a significant shift in Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming strategy, the much-anticipated DC Comics series "Lanterns", based on the iconic Green Lantern characters, has been officially granted an eight-episode order by HBO. This marks a notable departure from the previous labeling of DC shows as "Max Originals", a designation that was most recently seen with the "The Penguin" trailer.

The change, according to a report in Variety, is spearheaded by HBO and Max content CEO Casey Bloys, who is "moving most of Max’s upcoming big-budget, tentpole Warner Bros. IP projects to under the HBO umbrella." This rebranding strategy applies to shows slated for release in 2025 and beyond, leaving 2024 releases like "The Penguin" and "Dune: Prophecy" still labeled as Max originals. However, the shift is notable, with Bloys stating that "the process of licensing ["The Penguin"] internationally has already started", hinting at a focused approach to establishing HBO’s global brand dominance for these high-profile projects.

This decision marks a departure from the company’s earlier plans to label all shows based on Warner Bros. properties as Max Originals, a move that initially aimed to establish a distinct identity for the streaming platform. However, Bloys acknowledges the realization that these productions, while based on WB IP, share a strong creative and production backbone with HBO’s established content. He states, "As we started producing those shows, we were using the same methods, the same kind of thinking, as how we would approach HBO shows," highlighting the crossover of talent, as evident in "Watchmen" creator Damon Lindelof’s involvement in "Lanterns".

"The idea of the delineation kind of started to feel unnecessary," Bloys continues, effectively declaring that the distinction between "HBO Originals" and "Max Originals" for these ambitious projects has become superfluous. The decision ultimately boils down to acknowledging the intrinsic quality and production values that equate to the "HBO brand", making such a differentiation redundant.

So, what does this mean for viewers? The shift in nomenclature signifies a push to associate the high-quality, prestige-driven image of HBO with these high-budget DC projects like "Lanterns". While the shows will continue to be accessible on Max, they’ll now be marketed as "HBO Originals", capitalizing on the perceived prestige and quality associated with the HBO brand.

This strategic move is further emphasized by Bloys’ clarification on the delineation between "HBO" and "Max" content going forward. "Max-only series will still exist," but their focus will be "more in the broadcast/traditional TV vein" with a more "scaled-down budget" compared to the "HBO Original" projects. This differentiation aims to establish clear expectations for viewers, showcasing higher-quality, high-budget productions under the HBO umbrella, while reserving the Max branding for more traditional, lower-budget fare.

When questioned about the decision to not simply classify every show as an "HBO Original", Bloys offers a pragmatic statement, "I do think it is helpful to have a brand that doesn’t put the expectations or the intention of an HBO show. If it’s not designed to do that, it shouldn’t have to." This pragmatic approach suggests a conscious effort to maintain a balance between showcasing high-quality, prestige-driven content and providing a variety of programming options catering to diverse audience preferences.

Ultimately, the shift to classifying "Lanterns" and other high-profile DC shows as "HBO Originals" is a strategic move that aims to leverage the recognition and prestige of the HBO brand to attract audiences and potentially boost the platform’s global reach. It’s a move that positions HBO as the home for big-budget, prestige-driven entertainment, highlighting a clear commitment to producing and distributing captivating and quality content.

While viewers may not notice substantial changes in their viewing experience, the "HBO Original" label acts as a powerful marketing tool, signaling a commitment to producing high-quality, intricately crafted storytelling, which aligns with HBO’s established reputation. The move also underscores the strategic importance of Warner Bros. Discovery’s commitment to its DC Universe and the desire to leverage these iconic characters and stories to propel its streaming platforms to the forefront of the entertainment landscape.

As viewers eagerly await the release of "The Penguin", the final DC offering that will carry the "Max Original" moniker, the future of Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming strategy becomes increasingly clear: embrace the power of the HBO brand, and let the "HBO Originals" shine.

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Alex Parker
Alex Parker
Alex Parker is a tech-savvy writer who delves into the world of gadgets, science, and digital culture. Known for his engaging style and detailed reviews, Alex provides readers with a deep understanding of the latest trends and innovations in the digital world.