HBO Max Delays Friends Reunion but Still Hopes to Film in Time for May Launch

The new streaming service's special hasn't yet gone into production

cast of friends all dressed in black with courteney cox in silver
HBO Max's Friends cast reunion is one of the new streaming service's biggest draws. Getty Images

As Hollywood hunkers down amid the coronavirus pandemic, TV and film production is grinding to a halt. That now includes the Friends cast reunion for HBO Max. But while the special has been delayed, WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service still plans to film the program in time for its launch in May.

The special will bring the sitcom’s original cast—Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer—back together to talk about the show and its legacy for the first time since Friends went off the air in 1994. It had not yet gone into production, and filming has been delayed, according to a source.

A WarnerMedia spokesperson said HBO Max is “still moving forward” with the special and “at this point, we anticipate launching HBO Max with the Friends Reunion Special.”

HBO Max’s May debut, which will launch with NBC’s full run of Friends alongside other big-ticket library titles like The Big Bang Theory and a host of originals, comes as the television and film industries are facing unprecedented challenges because of the coronavirus. Production has paused on most TV and movies in an effort to reduce the possibility of COVID-19’s transmission.

For some series with upcoming premieres, those halts have meant delaying their seasons indefinitely. FX said this week that the fourth installment of its limited series Fargo would not premiere on April 19 as previously planned. The show still had two more episodes to shoot prior to suspending production, and the network hopes it can air later this year.

Friends, which has seen a resurgence in popularity after it landed on Netflix, is expected to be one of HBO Max’s biggest draws, with the reunion special giving fans even more of an incentive to flock to the new streaming service, which will be priced at $14.99 a month when it debuts in May.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.