'Friends' Reunion Special Stuck In Second Gear, Is Delayed Again By HBO Max

HBO Max will have to pivot to a new release date for the Friends reunion special — again. The highly-anticipated unscripted Friends reunion special, which is set to bring back the hit sitcom's original cast members Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew Perry, has reportedly been delayed yet again due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on physical production.Variety reports that HBO Max has delayed the Friends reunion again, five months after the unscripted special was pushed back due to the industry-wide pandemic shutdowns. Though Hollywood is easing back into production, the status of physical productions is still behind, which seems to have affected the production of the Friends reunion special, which has not set a new filming date.

The special was originally supposed to be filmed back in March with a live audience, though those plans were scrapped for obvious reasons. This did not stop the Friends cast from holding a contest allowing fans a chance to visit the set of the reunion special, though now it's uncertain whether they'll be able to follow through with that prize. WarnerMedia Entertainment chair Bob Greenblatt had even hoped back in May that the special would be able to shoot by the end of the summer, again with the live audience experience.

"We do think there's a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together and we didn't want to just suddenly do it on a web call with, you know, six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms," Greenblatt said at the time.

It's uncertain if the production will hold out until a live audience can be brought in. The special was meant to help launch HBO Max in May, after the streamer landed the coveted exclusive streaming rights to all 10 seasons of the hit sitcom. WarnerMedia reportedly paid over $400 million for the rights to the series, outbidding Netflix. Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, Schwimmer, LeBlanc, and Perry were all getting between $3 million and $4 million to be part of the reunion, which is a big sum considering the special will be entirely unscripted and the stars won't be appearing in character. The special is just a retrospective reunion show with the cast and co-creators/executive producers Marta Kauffman and David Crane looking back at the show and its legacy.