After a delayed start due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotly anticipated “Friends” reunion is finally set to film next week — the week of April 5 — a source tells Variety.
Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry will reunite on a Warner Bros. soundstage for the HBO Max special. HBO Max declined to comment.
The cast reunion was originally set into motion in late February of 2020, mere weeks before the coronavirus crisis halted all film and TV production. Sources close to the matter had told Variety last year that each of the six stars would receive at least $2.5 million for participating in the special. With all 10 seasons of “Friends” having left Netflix, the show’s new home at HBO Max — boosted by a high-profile reunion — was supposed to help launch the streaming service into an already heated direct-to-consumer market. WarnerMedia reportedly paid over $400 million for the rights to the original series.
After its initial March 2020 shooting date was called off, WarnerMedia execs had then hoped to film the special by the end of the summer, with Bob Greenblatt — then WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman — saying that there was “value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together and we didn’t want to just suddenly do it on a web call with, you know, six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms.” He had also left open the possibility to filming the special virtually if the delay ran too long.
But that shoot date was also forced on the backburner as the pandemic raged on. The special has long been slated to film on Stage 24, the original “Friends” soundstage on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank, Calif., with Ben Winston directing and executive producing alongside “Friends” executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane.