By Wes Smith
Time Warner revealed a flurry of announcements at its Investor Day this Wednesday, including plans for its upcoming DC Comics films, HBO, and a Friends streaming deal.
From the Warner Bros. division of Time Warner, the tentpole studio unveiled its superhero film plans through 2019. Along with already-in-production Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, director Zach Snyder will release two separate Justice League titles in 2017 and 2019. The studio also confirmed a standalone Wonder Woman (2017) film, Jason Mamoa as Aquaman (2018), Dwayne Johnson in a Shazam title as Black Adam (2019).
Also announced were a standalone Suicide Squad film from director David Ayer (2016), The Flash featuring The Perks of Being a Wallflower costar Ezra Miller (2018), Cyborg with newcomer Ray Fisher (2020), and a Green Lantern reboot with an unannounced cast and director (2020).
The studio also announced three LEGO movies and a Harry Potter spin-off trilogy based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Along the television front, Time Warner announced a stand-alone streaming service for HBO. This will be the first time the pay-for channel will be available without a cable subscription. HBO will launch as standalone in 2015 with financial details to be announced. Currently, subscribers to the channel are allowed access to HBO content through its web app, HBO Go.
“There is huge opportunity in front of us… we will use all means at our disposal to go after it,” said HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler. “This is the most exciting inflection point domestically and internationally in the history of HBO.”
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes had previously hinted at turning the channel into a stand-alone service. Even with a slew of Emmy awards to its name and franchise hits like Game of Thrones, about 80 million homes do not have an HBO subscription. Taking the channel forward in a broadband-aware market was seen as the next step with technology making it a viable option.
“We have the rights. We can do it if we want to now,” said Bewkes last month.
The company also announced a streaming deal for Friends with Netflix.
Under the deal, all 10 seasons – 236 episodes in all – will begin streaming in the U.S. and Canada on January 1, 2015. This marks one of the most popular series to hit Netflix of all time.
While the studio is tight-lipped about how much its television series make in syndication, Friends is rumored to make upwards of $1 billion per year among its global rights. It is also rumored to be on every minute of every day somewhere on the globe, according to the Warner Bros. VIP Tour Department.
Whatever the true numbers, Friends was a pop culture phenomenon over its run and still enjoys lucrative syndication rights on cable in the U.S. through Nick At Nite and TBS.