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HBO Max series ‘House of Dragons’ revives Game of Thrones fan interest in streaming service

Yahoo Finance entertainment reporter Allie Canal explains how the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series may draw fans back to HBO's streaming service.

Video transcript

SEANA SMITH: Well, it is a huge weekend for "Game of Thrones" fans. HBO's long awaited prequel, "House of the Dragon," will make its debut on Sunday. Yahoo Finance's Allie Canal joins us. Allie, what can we expect?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: That's right, Seana. "House of the Dragon," that big prequel from "Game of Thrones," we've been waiting for this for so long. And it's expected to make a really big splash for both HBO and HBO Max. So reviews have been very solid so far, around 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. And just to go back to "Game of Thrones," that series finale, that attracted more than 19 million viewers across the HBO platform.

So the bar has already been set incredibly high. And this does come at a very critical time for HBO Max. You guys were just discussing in the previous segment. And there is a new report from Variety that HBO Max will remove 36 titles from the service as early as this week. This is on top of prior announcements that the streamer removed several Warner Brothers films, some original TV content, due to that upcoming merger with HBO Max and Discovery. That new combined platform is expected to hit the market as soon as next summer.

And by removing some of these titles, especially titles that weren't really watched as much as some of the other pieces of content, that will actually help the streamer cut costs, save on residuals. We know that's a big priority for current Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav. There is a commitment to slash $3 billion worth of costs over the next two years. You guys were talking about layoffs. We've seen that hit the platform, now some of this removal of the content.

So, again, "House of the Dragon" really coming at a critical point for this company. And fun fact here-- we've actually seen mobile downloads of the HBO Max app spike leading up to this premiere. Downloads are up 20% year over year. And it's the number one app currently in terms of consumer spend. And that's according to mobile analytics platform Data.AI. So lots of things to look forward to for HBO.

DAVE BRIGGS: Indeed, and the stock has really struggled, Warner Bros, Discovery, but getting a nice pop, up more than 4% to close the week. What's old is new again. A movie that is older than Allie, is older than Seana, "Grease" is returning to theaters this weekend. Where can we see it? And I understand there's a charity tie here.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Yeah, this is a really great tribute to Olivia Newton-John. And I actually did have the chance to meet Olivia Newton-John about five years ago. She was the sweetest woman ever. So kudos to AMC for this. "Grease" will play in 135 locations nationwide starting today. Tickets will cost $5 each, and $1 from every purchase will be donated to AMC's charitable fund called AMC Cares. And those proceeds will be going to breast cancer research.

That was the illness that Olivia Newton-John has struggled with since 1992. And although there wasn't an official cause of death, she did reveal in 2017, the cancer had come back for the third time. But what a legacy she leaves behind. "Grease," obviously, such an iconic movie, opened in 1978. It quickly became the highest grossing movie of that year, ending its box office run with over $132 million in ticket sales.

SEANA SMITH: Well, Allie, earlier in the show, I was talking about the fact, I haven't been to the movies probably in at least three years. But "Grease," that could actually be the movie to get me back to the theater. So I might be trying to buy one of those tickets. Allie Canal, thank you so much for joining us.