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Warner Bros. Has No Plans For A Friends Revival, Says Channing Dungey

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Warner Bros. Has No Plans For A Friends Revival, Says Channing Dungey

The iconic Central Perk won’t be welcoming patrons again just yet. Speaking at the Banff World Media Festival on a recent Monday, Channing Dungey, the head of Warner Bros. TV Group, shared her thoughts on why reviving the beloved series Friends continues to be an improbable scenario, despite the entertainment industry’s penchant for rejuvenating proven franchises.

“Recreating another Friends with that title would be a monumental challenge,” Dungey remarked. “Countless shows have drawn inspiration from Friends. Its legacy is monumental, and considering it’s still widely available for streaming, envisioning a fresh team of characters to inhabit the roles of Monica, Rachel, and Ross seems unattainable.”

The renowned comedy series, which featured Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, and the esteemed Matthew Perry, was broadcast on NBC from 1994 until 2004. Its success persists unabated in the era of digital streaming — according to Nielsen, Friends accumulated an impressive 25 billion minutes of viewership on Max in 2023. Max also hosted the one-off event, Friends: The Reunion, in 2021.

Even after three decades, the series’ cultural impact has not waned. “It’s still one of the top series on television,” noted Quinta Brunson, the brain behind and lead of Abbott Elementary, during her conversation with Aniston for Variety’s Actors on Actors. “Just so you know, Friends taught me the significance of ensemble casts.”

Dungey contends that the show’s enduring success does not justify a revival. “You need to consider the motives behind reviving it. What authenticates the need for a remade version?” she mentioned, in relation to reboots generally. “Has the world evolved in a manner that revisiting the concept now appears novel and engaging?”

Nevertheless, Dungey suggested that the political drama The West Wing, which graced our screens from 1999 through 2006, could potentially return in the future. Its cast gathered in 2020 for a staged rendition of the “Hartsfield’s Landing” episode as part of Max’s A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote.

“There might come a time when ascending to recreate The West Wing seems appropriate,” Dungey portrayed to the crowd at the Banff World Media Festival. She alluded to the intriguing potential of transforming the Ocean’s 11 lore into a finite series, hinting that it could be “rather amusing.”

Dungey’s remarks emerge amidst a surge in production of revivals, spin-offs, and continuations within the film industry. Max is diving headfirst into the craze with established IPs — it’s currently putting the pedal to the metal on a Harry Potter TV adaptation expected to premiere in 2026, which follows releases like And Just Like That… and Pretty Little Liars: Summer School.

In an era where the film and TV studios prioritize “quality over quantity” and grapple with industry reductions, the leaning towards “surefire hits” is increasingly apparent. Disney’s CEO Bob Iger underscored this point in May, mentioning the corporation’s strategy to “rely on sequels momentarily.” Many of the contemporary most-watched series are adapted from pre-existing materials, ranging from HBO’s House of the Dragon to Netflix’s 3 Body Problem.

We’re left in anticipation to discover which properties Warner Bros. will opt to rejuvenate and which will experience a fate similar to Friends. Meanwhile, we can’t help but speculate how an Ocean’s 11 miniseries might unfold.

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