Most people would, reasonably, assume that the popularity of a TV show, even one that was a massive hit, would dwindle considerably in the years after it finally stops making new episodes. But, that turns out to not quite be the case for Friends. The NBC megahit might actually be as popular today as it was during its initial run. Fans have been clamoring for a revival or reunion special for many years, and HBO Max is going to pay the stars a pretty penny to give them one.
Pretty much everyone who was relying on Netflix to stream Friends had a hard time when it was snatched away from the streamer at the start of the year, but, to help ease the transition to HBO Max, the new service is putting together an unscripted reunion special to kick off the availability of the comedy there. Each of the six stars will appear in the hour long special, and be paid between $3-$4 million for doing so. That's not bad for just talking about your old job for an hour, right?
Friends, which ran from 1994-2004 and launched the careers of Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry into the stratosphere, had already had a long (and very fruitful) life in syndication, but streaming really showed how much people were still addicted to the adventures, triumphs and woes of Phoebe, Joey, Ross, Monica, Rachel and Chandler. Fans have spent much of the past 15+ years since Friends went off the air losing their minds over any appearance of the cast together, to the point where Aniston joining Instagram and posting a picture with the whole cast basically broke the internet back in October.
There have been several teases from the stars that they were working on something together for months, and, according to Deadline, talks about doing the special began last fall. By the end of the year, though, negotiations had come to a standstill over money, but that's clearly been rectified now. It would seem that each party involved finally realized that the best thing would be to get this special on the air, because diehard Friends fans would absolutely be willing to pay to watch it go down.
Netflix knew what it had on its hands with Friends. The show landed squarely in the Top 10 of most popular Netflix shows last year, which makes the streamer's decision to pay $100 million to keep it around for another year, through the end of 2019, understandable. HBO Max is clearly hoping that investing in Friends will continue to be worth it, seeing as how the streamer reached deep into its brand new pockets and pulled out $425 million for the SVOD rights to the entire catalog of 236 episodes. And, if people flock to HBO Max after its launch in May to see the reunion special, it's not unlikely that they'll stick around to stream Friends.