Friends reunion officially happening for HBO Max
Staff Reporter | On 22, Feb 2020
The much-mooted and long-awaited Friends finally has the go-ahead, with the project officially on the works at HBO Max.
The one with the six 20-somethings hanging out in a New York coffee house – Chandler, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, Rachel and Ross – has enthralled viewers for decades since it first debuted back in 1994. Since it went off air in 2004, fans have clamoured for a chance to see Matthew Perry, Courtney Cox, Matt Le Blanc, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer together again, but The One Where The Cast Of Friends Get Back Together has remained an elusive idea.
The cast and creators repeatedly refused that a scripted revival would ever take place, although a mini-reunion took place in 2016 with five of the six stars (excluding Perry) participating in a look back at the work of NBC director and producer James Burrows. Now, after THR reported talks were underway last year, the project is officially a go.
The news comes at a time when Friends has been generating a number of headlines, not only for celebrating its 25th anniversary last year but also because the series left Netflix US at the end of 2019 – a move prompted by Warner keeping the rights to itself so it can offer it as an exclusive on HBO Max, its new streaming service that launched in May.
It is no coincidence, then, as HBO Max looks to compete with Netflix, NBC’s Peacock, Disney+ and more, that Warner has given the green light to the reunion, and convinced the rest of the team to take part. The six stars, plus creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, will all be present at the one-off special, which will be filmed on Stage 24 of the Warner lot, where the show was filmed. It will, crucially, be unscripted.
“Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together — we are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa and Matthew for an HBO Max special that will be programmed alongside the entire Friends library,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer at HBO Max and president, TBS, TNT and truTV, in a statement. “I became aware of Friends when it was in the very early stages of development and then had the opportunity to work on the series many years later and have delighted in seeing it catch on with viewers generation after generation. It taps into an era when friends — and audiences — gathered together in real time and we think this reunion special will capture that spirit, uniting original and new fans.”
The cast negotiated together during the show’s original run to earn $1 million per episode. They took the same approach again this time, reportedly earning between $2.5 million and $3 million for the special. Ben Winston will direct the special and exec-produce alongside Friends veterans Kevin Bright, Kauffman and Crane. Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative TV are producing, alongside Fulwell 73 Productions. All six stars will also exec produce, with Emma Conway and James Longman on board as co-exec producers.
The result will be a high-profile TV event for HBO Max, echoing the strategy taken by Disney to launch Disney+ with Star Wars series The Mandalorian, a new and exclusive original based on a much-loved franchise.
With Warner and Sky – including HBO – recently extending and deepening their partnership, and with Sky recently launching Sky Comedy as a home for US comedy from NBC (also owned by Sky’s parent company Comcast) and others, the odds on Sky becoming HBO Max’s arm in the UK are high. Nonetheless, stay tuned for official confirmation where the Friends reunion will be available in the UK.