‘The Penguin’ and ‘Dune: Prophecy’ Will Be Branded HBO (Instead of Max) Originals After All, After Some Crafty Dealmaking

When Variety broke the news last month that HBO and Max content CEO Casey Bloys had changed the delineation between what an “HBO show” and a “Max show” is, there was an asterisk attached. Max’s big-budget, tentpole Warner Bros. IP projects like the “Harry Potter” TV show, the “It” prequel series “Welcome to Derry” and the Green Lantern adaptation “Lanterns” — were moving to under the HBO umbrella, but those coming before 2025 would not.

Here was the rub, much to Bloys’ chagrin: The two shows premiering this fall that had inspired Bloys to change his tune, “The Penguin” and “Dune: Prophecy,” couldn’t contractually make the switch. The shows had already been sold to international outlets as Max Originals, and those kinds of complicated deals are hard to unwind and revise.

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“ ‘The Penguin’ would be an obvious fit as an HBO Original. Unfortunately, the process of licensing it internationally has already started,” Bloys said at the time.

Well, after some crafty negotiating, the HBO team has now indeed found a way to rebrand “The Penguin” and “Dune: Prophecy” as HBO Originals as well. Both series will now both air on HBO and stream on Max.

Bloys had been eager to move the big-budget, prestige Warner Bros. IP series from Max to HBO after seeing early cuts of “The Penguin.” He believed those clips believed look as good or better than anything from HBO, and deserved the HBO Originals patina.

“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 said at the time. “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.”

And for “The Penguin” and “Dune: Prophecy,” now they are.

According to the “Dune: Prophecy” logline, “From the expansive universe of ‘Dune,’ created by acclaimed author Frank Herbert, and 10,000 years before the ascension of Paul Atreides, ‘Dune: Prophecy’ follows two Harkonnen sisters as they combat forces that threaten the future of humankind, and establish the fabled sect that will become known as the Bene Gesserit.”

“Dune: Prophecy” stars Emily Watson, Olivia Williams, Travis Fimmel, Johdi May, Mark Strong, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Josh Heuston, Chloe Lea, Jade Anouka, Faoileann Cunningham, Edward Davis, Aoife Hinds, Chris Mason and Shalom Brune-Franklin.

The Penguin,” set immediately after the events of the 2022 “The Batman” film, is an eight-episode series stars Colin Farrell as the title character, who rises to power in the Gotham underworld to become one of the most notorious villains in the “Batman” universe.

Joining Farrell are Cristin Milioti, Michael Zegen and Clancy Brown. Rhenzy Feliz, Michael Kelly, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Deirdre O’Connell, Carmen Ejogo, François Chau and David H. Holmes.

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