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HBO Max: New movies, shows, streaming 'free' and everything else to know

HBO Max added a ton of new movies at the start of the month, plus The Many Saints of Newark is streaming there too (Venom 2 isn't though). Here's everything to know.

HBO Max logo on a phone
Angela Lang/CNET

HBO Max is the premium network's subscription-only streaming service that includes all the movies and shows on regular HBO, plus an extra streaming-only library of more shows, movies and originals. One of HBO Max's biggest draws during the pandemic has been its decision to stream new, theatrically released movies at no extra charge at the same time they hit theaters. The latest, which landed Friday, is The Many Saints of Newark, a film prequel to mobster series The Sopranos

It joined Cry Macho, the new movie from director Clint Eastwood, as well as horror film Malignant as the theatrical movies currently streaming on Max. (Dune and the Matrix 4 are coming before year's end.) And Friday coincides with the first of the month, when HBO Max adds a flood of licensed movies and shows to its service. 

But note, HBO Max killed off its weeklong free trial. And if you want to watch the same-day movies, you need to be on HBO Max's pricer tier. 

Here's all the details to know about HBO Max.  

What same-day movies are streaming on Max now -- or set to arrive soon? 

Warner Bros.' 2021 movies are set to hit theaters and HBO Max on the following release dates: 

All these titles will be available on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters in the US. 

Generally, most of the new Warner Bros. movies become available to stream on Max at 12:01 a.m. PT/3:01 a.m. ET on the day of their release. But the arrival timing for other movies may vary, depending on when the first cinematic screenings take place at theaters. Wonder Woman 1984, for example, became available at 9 a.m. PT/noon ET on Dec. 25 because that was the earliest theaters were open that day. The Suicide Squad is in the same boat, arriving on the service at an atypical time. 

All Warner Bros. movies released in this "hybrid" model on HBO Max will be available to watch in 4K Ultra HD resolution and HDR image quality, even though those formats aren't yet standard for the full Max library.

These movies are available to stream on HBO Max for 31 days. Typically, they are removed from the service at 11:59 p.m. PT on the last day of availability.

But these Warner Bros. movies also return to HBO Max relatively quickly, usually about five months after their original premieres in theaters and on Max.

Several movies have already come and gone, including Mortal Kombat and Godzilla vs. Kong. But all these Warner Bros. movies will return to HBO Max to stream a few months after their release. Wonder Woman 1984, for example, is back on HBO Max to stream, after it left the service in January during its theatrical window. 

But 2021 is planned to be the only year for this phenomenon of streaming new big-screen movies on HBO Max as soon as they hit theaters. Warner Bros. has said that 10 movies produced by the studio will go directly to HBO Max in 2022, but big franchise movies will have 45 days in theaters exclusively without any streaming option during that time starting next year.

What movies and shows were added to HBO Max in October? 

The first of the month is always the day HBO Max adds the most movies and shows to its library to stream. For October, HBO Max added 160 titles Friday: 

  1. Admission, 2013
  2. A Royal Affair, 2012
  3. After the Thin Man, 1936
  4. All The President's Men, 1976
  5. American Gigolo, 1980
  6. American Graffiti, 1973
  7. Argo, 2012 (alternate version)
  8. Bad Boys II, 2003
  9. Bad Boys, 1995
  10. Bad Words, 2013
  11. Ballet 422, 2014
  12. Being Flynn, 2012
  13. Best Man Down, 2013
  14. Beverly Hills Cop, 1984
  15. Beverly Hills Cop II, 1987
  16. Beverly Hills Cop III, 1994
  17. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, 1989
  18. Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, 1991
  19. Billy Elliot, 2000
  20. Black Christmas, 2019
  21. Black Hawk Down, 2001
  22. Blades of Glory, 2007
  23. Blazing Saddles, 1974
  24. Blood Father, 2016
  25. Bloodsport, 1988
  26. Blue Crush, 2002
  27. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, 2004
  28. Bridget Jones's Diary, 2001
  29. Broken City, 2013
  30. Caddyshack II, 1988
  31. Cake, 2005
  32. Cats, 2019
  33. Child 44, 2015
  34. City of God, 2002
  35. Clash of Titans, 1981
  36. Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, 2010
  37. Culpa, 2021
  38. Danny Collins, 2015
  39. David Lynch: The Art Life, 2016
  40. Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985
  41. Dinner for Schmucks, 2010
  42. Doubt, 2008
  43. Down a Dark Hall, 2018
  44. Downhill, 2020
  45. Drop Zone, 1994
  46. Dying Young, 1991
  47. El Cantante, 2007
  48. El Profugo, 2020
  49. Emma, 2020
  50. Endless Love, 2014
  51. Entre Nos: The Winners 2, 2021
  52. Entre Nos: What She Said, 2021
  53. Family Matters
  54. Fifty Shades of Black, 2016
  55. For a Good Time, Call..., 2012 (alternate version)
  56. Full House
  57. Gangs of New York, 2002
  58. Gangster Squad, 2013
  59. Goodbye, Mr. Chips, 1969
  60. Hacksaw Ridge, 2016
  61. Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay
  62. He Said She Said, 1991
  63. Hearts in Atlantis, 2001
  64. Hitch, 2005
  65. Hitman, 2007 (alternate version)
  66. Hooper, 1978
  67. Hostage, 2005
  68. House of Wax, 2005
  69. House, 2008
  70. Imagine That, 2009
  71. Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words, 2015
  72. J. Edgar, 2011
  73. Johnny English Strikes Again, 2018
  74. Journey to the Center of the Earth, 2008
  75. Just Mercy, 2019
  76. Kill Bill: Vol. 1, 2003
  77. Kill Bill: Vol. 2, 2004
  78. Kin, 2018
  79. Leap Year, 2010
  80. Lego DC Shazam: Magic and Monsters!, 2020
  81. Less Than Zero, 1987
  82. Like Water for Chocolate, 1992
  83. Little Man, 2006
  84. Lincoln, 2012
  85. Lottery Ticket, 2010
  86. M*A*S*H, 1970
  87. Mama, 2013
  88. Marathon Man, 1976
  89. Misery, 1990
  90. Monster's Ball, 2001 (alternate version)
  91. Moonrise Kingdom, 2012
  92. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, 1989
  93. National Lampoon's Vacation, 1983
  94. Natural Born Killers, 1994
  95. Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always, 2020
  96. Night Catches Us, 2010
  97. Orphan, 2009
  98. Parental Guidance, 2012
  99. Pariah, 2011
  100. Police Academy, 1984
  101. Poltergeist II: The Other Side, 1986
  102. Poltergeist III, 1988
  103. Private Parts, 1997
  104. Proof of Life, 2000
  105. Racing Stripes, 2005
  106. Reservation Road, 2007
  107. Say Anything..., 1989
  108. Sergeant York, 1941
  109. Shaft, 1971
  110. Shall We Dance?, 2004
  111. She's All That, 1999
  112. Sherlock Holmes and the Great Escape, 2019
  113. Sherlock Holmes, 2009
  114. Shrek the Third, 2007
  115. Six Degrees of Separation, 1993
  116. Sliver, 1993 (alternate version)
  117. Snitch, 2013
  118. Speedway, 1968
  119. Step by Step
  120. Stigmata, 1999
  121. Strange But True, 2019
  122. Superstar, 1999
  123. Super 8, 2011
  124. Talk to Me, 2007
  125. Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans, 2019
  126. The Banger Sisters, 2002
  127. The Blind Side, 2009
  128. The Bonfire of the Vanities, 1990
  129. The Book of Eli, 2010
  130. The Campaign, 2012 (alternate version)
  131. The Cider House Rules, 1999
  132. The Cincinnati Kid, 1965
  133. The East, 2013
  134. The Eichmann Show, 2015
  135. The Internship, 2013
  136. The Invisible Man, 2020
  137. The Harvey Girls, 1946
  138. The High Note, 2020
  139. The Hours, 2002
  140. The Legend of Hercules, 2014
  141. The Outsiders, 1983
  142. The Perfect Storm, 2000
  143. The Poseidon Adventure, 1972
  144. The Quarry, 2020
  145. The Rite, 2011
  146. The Running Man, 1987
  147. The Way Way Back, 2013
  148. The 15:17 to Paris, 2018
  149. Things We Lost in the Fire, 2007
  150. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, 2005
  151. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, 2011
  152. Trance, 2013
  153. Tully, 2018
  154. Twelve Monkeys, 1995
  155. Underwater, 2020
  156. Up in the Air, 2009
  157. Wall Street, 1987
  158. Warm Bodies, 2013
  159. Wendy, 2020
  160. XXX, 2002

The easiest way to peruse HBO Max's full selection without signing up is by browsing a third-party catalog-search service like Reelgood

Does HBO Max have a free trial? 

Not anymore. HBO Max eliminated its standard one-week free trial in December. But it does occasionally offer promotions and bundling deals. (See the next section.)

How much does HBO Max cost?

HBO Max is $15 a month without advertising or $10 a month supported by ads. It doesn't have a free trial, but the company occasionally offers discounts if you prepay for an extended period of time. For example, before launch, people who preordered the service at HBOMax.com unlocked a discount deal that lowered the price to $13 a month for the first year. Some customers can also hunt out specialized free trials, sometimes linked to the purchase of a television or other tech product. 

AT&T, the parent company of both HBO Max and Warner Bros., is also offering a complicated matrix of promos for HBO Max for its own customers. Some AT&T customers get Max at no extra cost, while others qualify for a one-month, three-month or one-year free trial. Your best shot at figuring out whether you qualify is to check your account or the my AT&T app, but CNET also lists AT&T's qualification terms for its HBO Max promos

Compared with rival streaming services, HBO Max's ad-free $15-a-month pricing may feel steep. Disney Plus is $8 a month, and Apple TV Plus is $5, though it keeps extending free trials for anyone who's bought a new Apple gadget. But HBO Max's price is close to Netflix's most popular plan, which is $14. 

How do I get HBO Max 'free' if I already have regular HBO? 

Some people who already have an existing subscription to HBO are able to unlock HBO Max at no extra cost, but not everyone. About 33,000 regular HBO subscribers in the US still aren't eligible for an HBO Max upgrade; it all depends on which company provides your regular HBO subscription.

But many HBO Max distributors unlock an HBO Max upgrade at no extra cost for current HBO and legacy HBO Now customers, thanks to deals HBO Max struck with them. You qualify for the HBO Max upgrade at no extra cost if you already pay for HBO through the following: 

And there are many more. HBO also has a full listing with additional providers that offer the upgrade to Max. 

If you previously paid for an HBO streaming subscription through Roku (that is, through The Roku Channel), you need to cancel that subscription and then sign up for HBO Max itself to be able to access Max.  

What do I need to know about HBO Max with Ads? 

HBO Max with Ads is the less expensive, ad-supported version of HBO Max. It launched in the US in June. This $10-a-month subscription is a $5 discount monthly compared with ad-free Max; in exchange, you'll see commercials with some programming and other advertisements elsewhere eventually, like when you pause playback or on pages that curate collections of shows and movies. 

You can watch almost everything on HBO Max as an ad-supported subscriber, with one major exception: The cheaper tier doesn't have any of the new Warner Bros. movies that are streaming the same day they hit theaters. If you want to stream those films during the 31 days they're available on Max during their initial theatrical runs, you have to subscribe to the pricier, ad-free level.

However, Warner Bros. movies do end up on Max relatively quickly after they're done in theaters. Wonder Woman 1984, for example, was back on Max in May, about five months after it first premiered. 

The cheaper tier allows you to watch everything else on the service. 

HBO Max has committed to keeping the amount of advertising low. The company says that its ad load -- or the amount of advertising you watch every hour -- will be under four minutes on average. Different kinds of programming will have different ad loads, so the amount you see may vary depending on what you watch. But HBO Max has said it is committed to keeping average ad load below four minutes so that it will be the lowest in the streaming industry, and it plans to monitor user behavior and engagement to make sure it keeps below that threshold. 

HBO originals -- that is, programs created for the traditional HBO networks -- won't have commercial interruptions during playback. They may have short promos for other HBO programming before they start, which is standard even for people who pay for ad-free HBO Max, but you won't see commercial breaks shoehorned into them. And it's possible that some of the nonconventional ad formats, like pause ads, could show up with HBO originals, too. But HBO Max isn't going to disrupt HBO originals with traditional ad breaks. 

However, HBO Max originals -- that is, programs created for the service HBO Max but not for the traditional network -- may indeed have advertising breaks inserted in the shows. That would include things like the Friends reunion special, The Flight Attendant and others. 

And licensed shows like Friends and The Big Bang Theory, which were originally created with ad breaks, will have ads. But HBO Max may not insert advertising into every ad break, according to Julian Franco, vice president of product management at HBO Max, who helped lead the tier's product development. 

How can I watch HBO Max on my TV? What devices support Max?

Because HBO Max isn't a channel, you need to have an internet-connected TV in order to watch it on the biggest screen in your house. But HBO Max has apps for a variety of devices, both TVs and mobile gadgets.

  • Most Apple devices that can stream video support HBO Max -- iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD. However, customers with second- and third-generation Apple TV models will need to stream HBO Max content from their iPhone or iPad to their TV with AirPlay.
  • Google's Android operating system for phones and tablets has an app for Android TV devices, Chromebooks, Google Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices will support HBO Max too. 
  • Sony's PlayStation 4 systems can download the HBO Max app via the PlayStation Store. 
  • Microsoft's Xbox One gaming consoles have the HBO Max app via the Microsoft Store.
  • Select Samsung internet-connected smart TVs -- models from 2016 through 2020 -- can download and purchase HBO Max directly.
  • Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire tablets have support for HBO Max's app.
  • Roku devices support HBO Max for streaming and for signing up to the service as a new user.

How can I sign up for HBO Max? 

The simplest way to get HBO Max is to sign up for it directly at hbomax.com

On Apple devices, HBO Max has an iOS app for iPhone and iPad, which allows you to sign up and pay through an in-app purchase. Apple also integrates HBO Max into its own TV app, which allows you to congregate certain streaming channels to watch them in one place. 

Through Google, HBO Max has an app for Android phones and tablets in the Google Play store, and you'll be able to sign up inside the app with an in-app purchase. You'll also be able to stream HBO Max on Android TV, Chromebook and Google Chromecast. If you previously subscribed to HBO Now through Google Play, you're automatically able to log in to HBO Max at no additional charge, and you'll continue to be billed through Google. And YouTube TV, the streaming pay-TV service operated by Google's YouTube, will also carry HBO Max. 

Roku also allows people to sign up for HBO Max directly on its devices using its payment system, Roku Pay. And people with Samsung Smart TVs that support the HBO Max app can sign up directly there too. 

What other shows and movies can I watch?

Generally, HBO Max includes all the shows and movies on HBO, plus a selection of high-profile licensed content, like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Rick & Morty and South Park. It layers exclusive original programming on top of that. And all of Warner Bros. 2021 theatrical movies will be released on Max the same day as they hit cinemas, available to stream for 31 days at no extra cost.

Again, an easy way to see what's available without signing up is third-party catalog-search services like Reelgood

The simplest part of the catalog to understand is HBO itself. HBO Max includes everything on regular HBO, so that means all the theatrical movies that come and go from the channel; new episodes from all HBO series, like Euphoria and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; and the past seasons of those programs as well as the full HBO back catalog, like Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Veep and The Wire; plus all of HBO's original films, documentaries and specials. 

Movies are a crucial part of the catalog. And any movie that's available to watch on the traditional HBO network will also be available to stream on HBO Max. 

Beyond that, HBO Max has padded itself with more content than you'll find on regular HBO, for basically the same price. The service has been pouring billions of dollars into its budgets for original programming and into expensive deals to stream titles from DCStudio Ghibli and the Criterion Collection, as well as popular shows like FriendsSouth ParkThe Big Bang TheoryRick and MortyDoctor Who and new episodes of Adventure Time

The service's Max Originals also offer new, exclusive shows and movies. Some of the most popular Max originals so far: Justice League Snyder Cut, which was released in March; The Flight Attendant, a comedic thriller series starring Kaley Cuoco; Raised by Wolves, a sci-fi series from famed filmmaker Ridley Scott; and The Witches, a reboot of the classic Roald Dahl book and 1990 film, starring Octavia Spencer and Anne Hathaway. 

HBO Max also has podcasts in its library linked to its programming, along the lines of last year's podcast companion to the miniseries Chernobyl. Raised by Wolves, for example, has a podcast available now on Max and other podcasting platforms. Max will be adding original, exclusive podcasts later this year, like a scripted Batman podcast in the fall. 

What countries have HBO Max now? When does HBO Max launch internationally elsewhere?

HBO Max launched May 27, 2020, in the US. 

Friends

HBO Max brokered a reported $425 million deal for all episodes of '90s hit Friends, which exited Netflix to start streaming on HBO Max at launch.

NBC

HBO Max's first international expansion was into 39 territories across Latin America and the Caribbean in late June. Those territories include Anguilla, Antigua, Argentina, Aruba, B.V.I., Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Uruguay and Venezuela.

After that, HBO Max will launch in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra on Oct. 26, widening the streaming service into Europe. It'll move forward to Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Portugal in 2022. 

What product features does HBO Max have? 

In a long-anticipated feature for anyone who previously used HBO Go, HBO Max has downloads for its mobile apps. 

HBO Max allows you to stream to three different devices simultaneously. By comparison, Disney Plus allows four simultaneous streams, and Netflix allows between one and four depending on how much you pay each month. 

You can also create up to five profiles to keep recommendations separate for different members of the household, and it also has kid accounts that are unlocked by entering a PIN. These parental controls allow moms and dads to set the maturity levels of the programming each kids' profile can access, based on ratings like PG and TV-14. 

Another missing element: HBO Max doesn't offer 4K resolution nor high dynamic range image quality for most of its catalog. The exception is all the theatrical movies that Warner Bros. is releasing on HBO Max the same day as cinemas; all those films will be available in 4K Ultra HD and HDR.