Prophecy and The Penguin are going to HBO, actually

Dune: Prophecy and The Penguin become HBO Originals

The Penguin
Screenshot: Max/YouTube

Dune: Prophecy and The Penguin are the latest so-called “Max Originals” to jump from the streaming-only ship. Per Variety, both shows will now air on HBO, following a similar decision regarding the Harry Potter series, the IT prequel series, and the Green Lantern show. The Dune and Penguin series move is notable because those series had already been sold to international markets as Max Originals, making it more complicated to change their designation after the fact. (Teasers were already released for both with “Max” branding.) But with the help of what Variety calls “crafty negotiating,” the studio was able to bump these shows into the HBO bucket.

The original episodic strategy for Warner Bros. Discovery’s streamer was that all WB intellectual property was going straight to Max. Last month, HBO and Max CEO Casey Bloys spoke at length with Variety about changing his mind on the subject and explained what will make a show a “Max Original” vs. a “HBO Original” going forward. “What we ended up with is shows at this scope and scale that look great, and great narratives and talent we’ve worked with,” Bloys added. “The idea of the delineation kind of started to feel unnecessary. Like, why are we doing this? Let’s just call them what they are: HBO shows.”

Interestingly, what that leaves for the “Max Originals” pile is shows that more closely resemble broadcast TV. “What we talked about with [The Pitt producer John Wells] was specifically how you would approach a network show for a streamer,” Bloys explained. “Typically, the production budget allows you to do more episodes. There’s closed-ended storytelling per episode, which is not typically what you would see in an HBO show.”

Of course, WBD shuffling the shows that are the most expensive, most valuable IP, best-looking, “prestige TV” fare back over to HBO just goes to show that being an HBO Original is still meaningful in 2024. Many pundits predicted dropping the “HBO” from “HBO Max” was an ill-advised move, distancing the streamer from brand recognition. The studios’ individual streaming services are having enough trouble staying afloat without creating problems for themselves! Of course, all these shows will stream on Max in addition to airing on HBO. But it’s clear where the company is investing its resources—streaming services may come and go, but HBO is forever.

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