A reunion special of the huge hit 90s TV show Friends has been in the works for a long time, and now it seems to be one step closer to finally becoming a reality. Deadline reports that the six stars of the original show have reached a preliminary deal to make the one-off special for streaming network HBO Max, and that they’ll be making huge money from it.
Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew Perry have come to an agreement with Warner Bros. for what is rumored to be an hour-long special. Negotiations were described by Deadline as “tough.” Negotiations between the actors and the network reportedly stalled at the end of 2019, due in part to issues related to money.
The six stars are said to be paid between $3 million-$4 million each for the show. The total cost of the show is $20 million, according to Deadline. The site points out that, while this is a jaw-dropping sum, it’s actually in line with what Netflix pays for its top-billed hour-long comedy specials from the likes of Dave Chappelle, Ellen Degeneres, and others.
Friends creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane are also said to be involved in the reunion special. The report also says the special will be a launchpad of sorts for the return of Friends for streaming. The show was removed from Netflix at the end of 2019, and it will come to HBO Max at some point in the future, likely in time for the HBO Max launch in May 2020.
WarnerMedia reportedly paid $85 million per year to get Friends for a period of five years.
Some people have balked at the hefty price tag for one hour of TV, but digital media strategist Matthew Ball points out that Friends remains an incredibly in-demand, attention-grabbing franchise that can demand such a high price tag.
As of 2015, the show was bringing in $1 billion every year from syndication, with all the main stars making $20 million a year from that based on their 2 percent share of syndication revenue, according to USA Today.
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