All six original cast members of Friends are in early talks for a long-awaited reunion special to air on HBO Max in celebration of the show's 25th anniversary. The incredibly popular sitcom portrayed twenty-something life in New York City in the 1990s and early aughts before going off the air in 2004. The show has found a second life in syndication and, more recently, on Netflix. In celebration of the show's 25th anniversary, Warner Bros. TV has been promoting the show's influence on pop culture around the world. Select holiday episodes were recently screened in movie theaters. In addition, replicas of the couch from the iconic title sequence were placed at famous landmarks around the world. Finally, pop-up recreations of Central Perk appeared, delighting long-time fans of the show.
Friends was a major hit for Warner Bros. TV while it was on the air at NBC, with the core six cast members earning major paychecks for the later seasons. Aniston in particular has gone on to become a major Hollywood star, and the series also featured guest appearances from Paul Rudd, George Clooney, Robin Williams, Bruce Willis, Charlie Sheen, Christina Applegate, and Reese Witherspoon. Warner Bros. is now under the same umbrella as HBO Max, which paid a reported $425 million to secure the streaming rights to Friends from Netflix.
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THR reports that the Friends reunion special would feature the entire core cast, with Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer all in early talks to appear. In addition, the series' creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane would also participate in the special. However, fans hoping for new Friends stories should manage their expectations. The potential reunion special would be unscripted, which means it would likely be a conversation with the cast and creators of the show, not a new episode providing an update on Ross and Rachel's famously on-again, off-again romance. THR's sources also stressed that the deal "is far from done" and many other details still need to be decided. In particular, it may be difficult to find a time that works for all six stars' busy schedules. Of course, the special is still unconfirmed at this time. And, so far, Warner Bros. and HBO Max have not provided a comment on the news.
It's hard to overstate the impact Friends had on the pop culture landscape. Many of the show's gags have become famous across generations. Since the show went off the air, the cast has been rumored to be in talks for reunion specials and Friends mystery projects. A brief spinoff featuring Leblanc's character Joey was short-lived, and since then fans have had to satisfy themselves with re-runs of the hit series. Aniston was recently asked about a possible Friends reboot, but so far no such plans have been revealed. If the original cast does reunite for an unscripted reunion special, it would be a momentous occasion for fans of the long-running sitcom.
Of course, a Friends reunion special would also be a major win for HBO Max, which will debut in 2020 to an increasingly crowded streaming market. With Disney+ officially launched, HBO Max will have a number of competitors. Even a one-time reunion special could prove to be a big draw. After 25 years, the show still has many devoted fans. Yes, some of the show's jokes have aged poorly, but millions of people of all ages still like to catch up with the Central Perk friends. Starting next year, Friends fans will have to subscribe to HBO Max if they want to keep up with Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Monica, and Phoebe.