HBO Max: Movies Streaming Now and Everything Else to Know
Top movies on HBO Max now include The Batman -- here's the biggest movies available to stream and all your other questions answered.
Joan E. SolsmanFormer Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
ExpertiseStreaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation onlineCredentials
Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
HBO Max is the premium network's subscription streaming service that bundles together all the movies and shows on regular HBO with an extra streaming-only library of more shows, movies and originals.
Keep in mind, HBO Max killed off its weeklong free trial a while ago. And while it became closely linked to the pandemic-era practice of streaming new theatrical movies the same day they hit theaters, HBO Max has largely halted same-day streaming this year.
What top movies does HBO Max have now?
Some of the most high-profile movies currently available on HBO Max include:
Death on the Nile, the star-packed period mystery film.
Moonshot, a romantic comedy with a sci-fi twist.
King Richard, the Oscar-winning biopic starring Will Smith as Venus and Serena Williams' father.
Dune, another Oscar winner, revisioning the classic sci-fi novel.
Kimi, Steven Soderbergh's latest thriller.
West Side Story, Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning reimagining of the musical.
Drive My Car, a Japanese film that won the latest Oscar for best foreign language film.
F9: The Fast Saga, as well as four other movies in the Fast and Furious franchise (but not all of them).
Free Guy, the Ryan Reynolds video game comedy.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye, a film about televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.
The Forever Purge, last year's installment in the dystopian horror franchise.
Antlers, a supernatural horror film released late last year.
The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson's latest film.
The King's Man, the latest spy/action movie based on the comics-based franchise.
The entire Dark Knight series of films directed by Christopher Nolan, as well as other catalog Batman films.
The first two Fantastic Beasts movies, as well as all the Harry Potter films.
The original Jurassic Park trilogy.
HBO Max's library of movies is extensive: One way to scope out what else is available (without signing up) is a third-party catalog search services like Reelgood.
What happened to same-day movies on HBO Max?
HBO Max made waves when it announced that it would stream all of Warner Bros.' new, theatrically released movies in 2021 the same day they hit the big screen, at no added charge. That included Wonder Woman 1984, Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong and The Matrix Resurrections, among a lot of others.
But 2021 was planned to be the only year for this phenomenon of same-day streaming on Max. Warner Bros. has said that 10 movies produced by the studio will go directly to HBO Max in 2022, but its big franchise movies (like The Batman) have been getting 45 days in theaters exclusively without any streaming option during that time.
How much does HBO Max cost?
HBO Max is $15 a month without advertising or $10 a month supported by ads.
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, and Apple offers extended free trials for anyone who's bought a new Apple gadget. But HBO Max's price is just less than Netflix's most popular plan, which is $15.50.
What happened to HBO Max's free trial?
HBO Max eliminated its one-week free trial in December 2020, not long before it released Wonder Woman 1984 to stream on the service the same day it hit theaters. But HBO Max is available for most regular HBO subscribers at no added cost, and it does occasionally offer promotions and bundling deals. (See sections below for more details.)
How do I get HBO Max 'free' if I already have regular HBO?
Most 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:
AT&T (HBO's parent company) and DirecTV, U-verse, AT&T TV Now, AT&T TV and AT&T wireless users who can add HBO with certain unlimited plans.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.