‘Sex And The City’ Sequel, ‘And Just Like That…’ Provides HBO Max Its Highest Premiere

And Just Like That…the highly promoted sequel to HBO’s award-winning comedy (and its two subsequent, big box-office film sequels), made instant history as the best performing new series to launch on the somewhat nascent streaming service.

According to HBO Max, AJLT was the first thing new subscribers watched after signing up, and it improved viewership of the original series, Sex And The City as well, by over 59% in its second week.

With a subscriber base totaling about 45 million homes, such a feat is notable and a welcome win for Sarah Jessica Parker, the show and its streaming partner.

HBO Max (WarnerMedia’s digital answer to Netflix NFLX , Amazon, Disney+ DIS , Apple AAPL TV and Peacock) has had a rocky start in what’s been known as “the streaming wars” and is long overdue for some promising news.

AJLT…produced by original series showrunner Michael Patrick King, and featuring the majority of its starring cast (with the notable absence of the Samantha character, once memorably portrayed by Kim Cattrall) and supporting cast (including Willie Garson who died after the series wrapped production, but appears in all 10 of the first season’s episodes) is one more example of legacy entertainment companies doing their best to mine existing “intellectual property” to both simplify the marketing of new content and deliver for audiences eager to renew relationships with familiar characters and settings.

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HBO Max is best known for premiering an original feature film title each month, more than its series efforts.

Some new shows have worked well for HBO Max, including The Flight Attendant and Mindy Kaling’s most recent effort, The Sex Lives of College Girls, but by and large, recent streaming series breakthroughs are found elsewhere: Squid Game (Netflix), Maid (Netflix), Bridgerton (Netflix), The Mandalorian (Disney+), WandaVision (Disney+), Ted Lasso (Apple TV+), The Morning Show (Apple TV+), The Handmaid’s Tale (hulu), to name just a few.

AJLT…is one in a long-line of HBO Max nostalgia plays, based on HBO’s library of top-tier series.

Earlier this summer, David Chase brought The Sopranos back to life via a prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark, exploring the origin story of Tony Soprano’s life in the mob, with the title character capably played by James Gandolfini’s son, Michael Gandolfini.

Today, HBO Max announced a continuation of HBO’s ground-breaking “dramedy” Six Feet Under.

And let’s not forget that HBO Max will hold space for any number of spin-offs and prequels to HBO’s most successful series ever, Game of Thrones.

Meanwhile, the mother-ship, HBO, continues to break ground with fresh, original projects, less concerned with “reboots and sequels” and instead more focused on continuing to extend its unparalleled run as the gold standard of premium cable TV, with appointment, multiple Emmy-Award winners like This Week with John Oliver, Insecure, Mare of Easttown and Succession.

Whether AJLT is embraced over the long term seems less the point for HBO Max, than is the effort to truly define the HBO Max “brand” which has seemed more film-centric, than series focused.

Perhaps HBO Max’s future will be IP-specific and indeed more nostalgia based, at least in the short term, leaving the ground-breaking work to its premium cable progenitor.

If so, it seems only a matter of time before we learn of more HBO Max announcements which might include another look at other past HBO masterpieces, like OZ, The Wire and Big Love…or with even more recent successes like Veep or Silicon Valley.

Disney+ has made its name by plumbing IP from its four major content pillars: Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and National Geographic.

Maybe HBO Max will treat its HBO library the same way, but being sequel-focused, versus brand-dependent.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, AJLT…did what no other HBO Max series has gotten Forbes contributors to do…which is writing about one of their new series.

It was bound to happen and it did (and forgive me for succumbing to this)…just like that.

The Tycoon Herald