Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer will return to the original “Friends” soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank to celebrate the long-running series, which ended its run in 2004.
Sources close to the situation tell Variety the six stars will receive at least $2.5 million apiece for participating in the special.
The reunion has been hotly anticipated, with speculation about the HBO Max special swirling since last fall, just months after the WarnerMedia-created SVOD platform nabbed the streaming rights to the show from Netflix in a deal with Warner Bros. Television. All 10 seasons of the comedy left Netflix at the end of 2019, meaning that “Friends” has thus far not been available to stream in the U.S. this calendar year — at least, not until HBO Max launches in May.
The special, as well as all 236 episodes of “Friends,” will be available upon the streaming service’s debut. They will no doubt be a high-profile part of HBO Max’s appeal as it tries to attract subscribers. Though the sitcom aired its series finale over 15 years ago, third-party market researchers have said “Friends” was one of Netflix’s most-watched shows. And as previously reported, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment told Variety that sales of physical and digital versions of “Friends” have “roughly tripled” since news broke that it would be leaving Netflix.
“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 of 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.”
Ben Winston will direct the special and executive produce alongside “Friends” executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane. Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television and Fulwell 73 Productions are behind the program. Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer are also executive producing the special, with Emma Conway and James Longman on board as co-executive producers.
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