HBO Max orders new Degrassi series from WildBrain

Degrassi - from WildBrain
The U.S. streamer has also acquired all 14 seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation, set to launch in the spring.

HBO Max has commissioned a new iteration of the Degrassi franchise as part of a new deal with WildBrain.

Titled Degrassi, the 10 x 60-minute series will be produced by the Halifax-based prodco and distributor with Lara Azzopardi (Backstage) and Julia Cohen (Riverdale) as co-showrunners and executive producers.

The series is described as a character-driven serialized teen drama that “explores a group of teenagers and school faculty living in the shadow of events that both bind them together and tear them apart.”

Degrassi will be set and filmed in Toronto and go into production this summer before it launches on HBO Max in the U.S. in 2023.

The deal also sees HBO Max acquire all 14 seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation from WildBrain, which will land on the streamer in the spring.

No information about Canadian distribution was available as of press time. “We’re excited to be partnering with HBO Max on a brand-new Degrassi series as an original for their U.S. platform. We look forward to sharing additional exciting announcements down the road about availability of the new series in Canada and other territories,” said Shaun Smith, director, corporate and trade communications at WildBrain, in a statement to Playback Daily.

The Toronto-set Degrassi franchise was first created by Linda Schuyler in 1980 with The Kids of Degrassi Street, followed by sequel series Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High, Degrassi: The Next Generation and Degrassi: Next Class. WildBrain (then-DHX Media) acquired the franchise producer Epitome Productions, led by Schuyler and Stephen Stohn, in 2014 for $33 million.

Well-known Canadian actors who appeared in Degrassi: The Next Generation include Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk), hip-hop artist Drake (billed as Aubrey Graham) and Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries).

Degrassi marks WildBrain’s first commission from HBO Max. The company has previously inked franchise deals with Netflix (Sonic the Hedgehog and Strawberry Shortcake) and Apple TV+ (Peanuts).

“Series after series, the Degrassi franchise continues to make an indelible impact on young viewers looking for trustworthy and authentic storytelling,” said Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming, Warner Bros., in a statement. “WildBrain continues to artfully capture high school life in a compelling format that can be experienced seamlessly on HBO Max.”

“Now in its fourth decade, Degrassi is one of those beloved evergreen properties that demands to be refreshed for each new generation,” said WildBrain president Josh Scherba. “Stephanie Betts, our chief content officer, along with showrunners, Lara Azzopardi and Julia Cohen, have envisioned an evolution for Degrassi that, while staying true to the fundamental honesty, humanity and integrity of the brand, promises fans a journey into exciting new territory, both creatively and dramatically.”