The streaming wars are about to get even more heated. New competitors Apple TV+ and Disney+ are still in their first year of operation. But the impending launch of several new streaming services could turn the marketplace upside down in 2020. The biggest wild card? HBO Max.
The service is launching on May 27, 2020. And while its original programming may be coming up a bit short now, HBO Max has plenty of nostalgic favorites for subscribers. Chief among them is 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
WarnerMedia is the company behind HBO Max
The series — which ran on NBC from 1990 to 1996 — launched Will Smith’s acting career. And it’s only one of many projects produced by Warner Bros. that will be available to HBO Max subscribers. After all, the streaming service comes directly from WarnerMedia. So fans of the Warner Bros. back catalog are in luck.
HBO Max will feature a ton of films from throughout the studio’s history, including The Lord of the Rings and Wonder Woman. It will also feature new and classic content from HBO, CNN, TNT, TBS, TruTV, Turner Classic Movies, and Cartoon Network. One of the most notable additions is the entire Studio Ghibli catalog, including Spirited Away and other Hayao Miyazaki classics.
Of its TV offerings, Friends is perhaps the most anticipated by fans. The show recently left Netflix and will finally be available to stream once again. Likewise, shows like The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and The West Wing will join the HBO Max library when the streaming service officially launches.
‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ is still beloved more than 20 years later
Still, the addition of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a big one. The series has rarely been widely available to stream. And although it’s been off the air for more than two decades, it continues to be revisited and remembered fondly by generations of fans. Of course, the show began as a vehicle for Smith, then known for his Grammy-winning music career.
But the legacy of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has surpassed this beginning. The show has given birth to many beloved characters. Perhaps most famously, Alfonso Ribiero’s Carlton Banks has endured, thanks in large part to his signature “Carlton dance.” Ribiero has remained active on television, due to the massive fan base he earned as Carlton.
Likewise, the 2013 death of James Avery — who played Philip Banks, Will’s uncle — served as a sobering reminder of how much audiences love these characters. And the 2019 release of a fan-made reboot trailer titled simply Bel-Air ignited interest in possibly bringing the show back in some form. Among the video’s most vocal supporters was Smith himself.
HBO Max could propel plans for a reboot forward
In fact, just months after the Bel-Air video went viral, reports circulated that Smith was developing either a reboot or spin-off. As much as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is still popular, revisiting the series makes a lot of sense right now. Moreover, with HBO Max streaming the series, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
It’s unclear what form The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot would take or if it will really happen. But we’ve seen before how streaming can trigger fresh interest in a film or TV show. To that end, HBO Max could be the catalyst to make a new version of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actually come together.
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