HBO’s longstanding output agreement with Fox has been renewed, with a twist.
Through the end of 2022, around half the films released by the studio — which is now owned by Disney and named 20th Century Studios — and its sister Searchlight Pictures will stream simultaneously on Warnermedia’s HBO Max and Disney’s Hulu and/or Disney+. The companies are sharing “co-exclusive rights,” notes Variety, which first reported the deal. In other words: these films aren’t exclusive to anyone.
Meanwhile, HBO Max will retain exclusive rights to around half the studios’ films.
Ron’s Gone Wrong will be the first film to be available on both HBO Max and Disney+, where it will be released on December 15. The family feature, which was produced by the U.K.’s Locksmith Animation, was released in theaters to warm reviews last month. It hasn’t yet been announced which other 20th Century Studios films will be released on HBO/HBO Max.
HBO’s longstanding exclusivity pact with Fox has been fated to end ever since Disney acquired the studio and started developing its streaming business. It’s expected that the deal will not be renewed beyond 2022, after which 20th Century Studios will stay exclusive to Disney streamers.
Clearly, the two companies both see value in this unusual compromise for next year. Disney will welcome the revenue, while HBO Max will be glad to hold on to a few extra films while Warnermedia furiously builds up its own pipeline of content.