Grease has been the word since 1971 when the musical first premiered on Broadway. Eight years after its stage premiere, the timeless film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John hit theaters. The story of star-crossed high school romance, in a landscape of T-Birds and Pink Ladies, continues to be a generational favorite even as the 21st century rolls into its third decade. It was only a matter of time before someone found a way to reboot the story for a new century. It turns out it's coming in the form of HBO Max's Grease: Rydell High, one of the many series coming to the streaming network, which launches in 2020.
HBO Max is yet another streaming service heading to consumers in an already vaguely crowded landscape including HBO Now and HBO Go. But both those streaming options are HBO-only programming. HBO Max is a little different.
Though it bears the "HBO" name, Max is the streaming service from HBO's parent company WarnerMedia. It will have all the usual HBO things, like Game of Thrones and Succession. But this is where Warner Brothers' content will also wind up, including all the DC Comic shows on the CW like Batwoman, and the Archie Comics-inspired Riverdale.
That CW connection is why HBO Max is also creating exclusive teen fare for HBO Max subscribers. And that includes the brand new spin on Grease.
It turns out the Pink Ladies and T-Birds still rule the school. Here's the show's synopsis, as released by HBO Max:
HBO Max has ordered Grease: Rydell High, a musical series inspired by the 1978 Golden Globe-nominated film Grease. A joyous musical series set in and around the world of Rydell High, the show reimagines the global smash hit movie with some characters you already know, and a whole lot more you will soon meet. It’s still the 1950s, a world that rocks with big musical numbers from the period combined with new original songs as well. It’s the peer pressures of high school, the horrors of puberty, and the rollercoaster of life in middle America with a modern sensibility that will bring it to life for today’s musical lovers.
Sarah Aubrey, the head of original content, HBO Max, put out a statement praising the concept:
Grease is an iconic pop-culture phenomenon that works for every generation, and I’m thrilled that our friends at Paramount were excited about the idea of opening up the show and putting it on a larger canvas for a weekly series. This is high school and life in small-town USA told on the scale of a big rock’n’roll musical. It’s Grease 2.0 but with the same spirit, energy, and excitement you immediately think of when you hear any of these iconic songs. You’re the One That I Want!
(Is this where I remind everyone Grease 2 happened and Michelle Pfeiffer can corroborate my story?)
This is the second Grease spinoff currently in the works. Paramount, who will produce the series, also has Summer Lovin, a Grease musical prequel, in development for the big screen. Grease, it seems, is the word indeed.
HBO Max does not yet have a launch date but is expected to arrive sometime in 2020.