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The surprising reason HBO dropped Masters of the Air despite it being a thematic sequel to Band of Brothers and the Pacific

It was largely down to who had the deeper wallet.

Masters of the Air (2024)
Image credit: Apple TV+

The Band of Brothers and The Pacific follow-up series Masters of the Air was once set to be developed at HBO, but eventually jumped to Apple. This is why.

The event series, which finally premieres on January 26 on the Apple TV streaming platform, comes from executive producers Steven Spielberg (through Amblin Television) and Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman (for Playtone). This means that, like its predecessors, its home should have been HBO, and that was the case as far back as 2013, but the deal eventually fell through. Some viewers have been wondering about why this happened, and the reason is quite simple.

The Hollywood Reporter's own 2019 report on the change claimed their sources said HBO was indeed looking to spend the needed resources elsewhere, also arguing "DVD sales were largely responsible for turning pricey awards winners The Pacific and Brothers into financial hits." Back in 2019, things were looking very bright for streaming and dire for physical formats, so HBO saw no easy way to turn the $250 million behemoth into a profit. The situation has changed quite a bit in recent times, but what's done is done.

Masters of the Air is based on Donald L. Miller's book of the same name, and was scripted by Band of Brothers veteran John Orloff. It follows the men of the 100th Bomb Group as they conduct perilous bombing raids over Nazi Germany. The stellar cast includes Austin Butler, Callum Turner, Anthony Boyle, Nate Mann, Raff Law, Barry Keoghan, Josiah Cross, Branden Cook, and Ncuti Gatwa. Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Dee Rees, and Tim Van Patten are the directors involved.

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