It looks like that Friends reunion special is very much going to happen, but there’s a reason it’s taken so long to come to an arrangement. No, it’s really not that hard to get all the cast members together (just look at their Instagrams). The sticking point was how much each cast member would get paid for reuniting for a one-hour talk show-style reunion special, and it sounds like both sides are finally coming to a sizable agreement.
Per Deadline, the cast of Friends—Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew Perry—have reached an agreement in principle with series producer Warner Bros. TV, following tough negotiations. The deal is for an hourlong special on the upcoming streaming service HBO Max, with each of the six cast members being paid in the $3 million to $4 million range for merely appearing in the special. Yep! That’s a hell of a payday.
And you know what? Good for them. They don’t need to do this, and for years have staved off the idea of doing an actual reunion episode of the series. So if it’s really that important to Warner Bros. TV to get this Friends reunion special off the ground, why not make it worth their while?
The total spent on the special will be around $20 million, which is about in line with what Netflix pays for its top tier comedy specials from the likes of Dave Chappelle and Amy Schumer, so it’s not an unprecedented number.
Warner Bros. really wanted this special to happen. It’s seen as an anchor of sorts with which to launch the new streaming service HBO Max, which will also be the exclusive streaming home of Friends. There was some back and forth last fall but negotiations came to a standstill at the end of 2019, with the actors and Warner Bros. TV not seeing eye to eye on how much they should be paid for the special. Now, it appears, Warner Bros. is ready and willing to shell out the big bucks.
Friends creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane are also expected to be involved in the reunion special in some capacity, and it’ll be interesting to see all the actors back together again discussing one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time. Friends gained an all new audience when it was streaming on Netflix, drawing the interest of teens the world over, and when streaming rights were up for grabs a bidding war ensued. HBO Max paid a whopping $425 million to score the streaming rights away from Netflix, and while HBO Max is owned by Warner Bros. which also owns Friends so this is kind of a human centipede situation, that’s still a pretty penny.
Now the clock is ticking as HBO Max no doubt wants the special ready to run when the streaming service launches in May. So hold on to your butts, folks. The real Friends will be there for you momentarily.