HBO Max, Warner Bros. Unveil New Film Division for Streaming Service

Presley Ann/Getty Images for WarnerMedia
Kevin Reilly

The joint venture will target making eight to 10 smaller budgeted films a year.

Warner Bros. Pictures and HBO Max have formed a new film production label that will focus on releasing eight to 10 midbudget movies per year via the company's new streaming service, which is set to launch in May in the U.S.

The creation of Warner Max is designed to encourage collaboration and the sharing of resources across two titan divisions, it was was announced Wednesday by Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Ann Sarnoff and WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer chairman Robert Greenblatt. Many of the titles will be original, along with some acquisitions.

Warner Max will be overseen by HBO Max chief content officer Kevin Reilly and Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich, who will share greenlight responsibility. The duo will work in collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures COO Carolyn Blackwood, Emmerich's No. 2, and HBO Max head of original content Sarah Aubrey.

Jessie Henderson, who is HBO Max's executive vp original feature films, will expand her role to serve as the day-to-day head of the label and liaison between HBO Max and Warner Bros. Pictures. She will report to Aubrey and Blackwood.

Budgets will be in the $25 million range, on average, according to sources.

The joint venture won't preclude Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line from releasing midbudget fare theatrically.

The first Warner Max titles will premiere on the service sometime this year, although no titles were included in Wednesday's announcement. Warner Bros. will be responsible for distribution of these titles in all other media and territories beyond the HBO Max SVOD window.

“From the get-go we have been strategizing with Toby and Carolyn about HBO Max original films,” Reilly said in the statement. “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 Warner Max films.”

Added Emmerich, “We’re excited to help make HBO Max a destination for both film-lovers and the creative community, while delivering a win across the entire WarnerMedia organization.”

Blackwood said Warner Max will be a competitive player in the SVOD film space from "day one."