It’s really happening: ‘Friends’ reunion special slated for HBO Max debut
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Stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer have all signed deals to participate in the reunion special that will be available exclusively on HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service.
Each star is reportedly receiving $2.5 million for participating in the special, which will be filmed on Stage 24 on the Warner Bros. lot, the same soundstage the show used for all but the first year of its run (the stage has since been named “The Friends Stage”).
The special is being produced by Warner Bros.’ unscripted division, so it’s not expected to be a new episode of the sitcom with the actors playing their characters. Instead, it appears it will include the actors reminiscing about the show, likely with plenty of clips of fan favorite scenes edited in.
The show, which ran for 10 seasons on NBC, hasn’t been available on an on demand streaming service since it left Netflix in December 2019, but is expected to be part of the debut offerings when HBO Max signs on in May 2020.
Although the show anchored NBC’s powerhouse Thursday night lineup for most of its original run, it was produced by Warner Bros., whose parent WarnerMedia ultimately won the streaming rights for the show after it left Netflix.
Netflix reportedly paid $100 million for about a year’s worth of streaming rights for the show.
HBO Max reportedly ended up paying $485 million for a five year deal to stream the show (that comes out to about $85 million a year).
NBC is planning its own streaming service, Peacock, for a 2020 launch as well — but it won’t feature “Friends.”
Meanwhile, since leaving Netflix, sales of DVD and digital versions of the sitcom have reportedly seen a spike.
Most shows typically license their streaming rights separately from physical and digital sales — meaning the series is still available for purchase on services such as Apple TV (you just can’t stream it on demand as part of a flat monthly fee).
The special will be available when HBO Max launches — along with all 10 seasons of the show.
“Friends” signed off in 2004 but its 236 episodes have remained in syndication.