Why did Dead Boy Detectives move from HBO Max to Netflix for streaming? Reasons explained

Netflix's newest hit Dead Boy Detectives had almost aired on Max (Image via Netflix)

The sudden switch of Dead Boy Detectives from HBO Max to Netflix was a decision that came pretty late in the game when the final two episodes were left for streaming. The reason, as showrunner Steve Yockey revealed, was owing to licensing rights that stemmed from the fact that the series was set in The Sandman Universe.

As Yockey revealed, the news had originally reached him and his co-showrunner Beth Schwartz in the month of February 2023, when THR first reported that Max had made the decision to sell the show to Netflix.

Dead Boy Detectives being set in The Sandman Universe makes Netflix the obvious streaming platform

Steve Yockey revealed that he and Beth Schwartz had been aiming to make a show that took place in the same universe as The Sandman, when their plans were interfered with by real-world licensing issues. Warner Brothers had asked them to not use any intellectual property set in the universe of The Sandman, to prevent any friction with Netflix.

However, it was impossible to fully avoid references to the Sandman's universe because the original source material for Dead Boy Detectives had both co-existing. Neil Gaiman, the creator of both Dead Boy Detectives and Sandman comics had planned it that way. As such, while the showrunners did intend to tiptoe around stuff that exists in the Sandman's timeline, an explicit connection was unavoidable.

This was especially because the trailer showed the presence of Death, a character that had a major role in the lore and world-building of both Dead Boy Detectives and Sandman. This was the final straw that led to the decision to switch studios, as Yockey explains in an article by The Wrap:

"What actually happened was, we were making the show at Max. There was some uncertainty there on when exactly they would be able to release the show, based on release windows and things that we aren’t privy to. And Netflix wanted the show, because they had ‘Sandman,’ and it takes place in the universe."

Dead Boy Detectives is about two teenage ghosts solving mysteries

Released on April 25, 2024, Dead Boy Detectives tells the story of Charles and Edwin — the titular protagonists — who go around solving mysteries after having died as teenagers. The series features a colorful cast of characters drawn from Neil Gaiman's vibrant comic world, which the show shares with The Sandman, another of Gaiman's works that were adapted to Netflix last year.

The connection between the two shows is explicit through the presence of the Endless, a group of deities who act as personified manifestations of human emotions or aspects of life. Death is one of the Endless that makes an appearance in The Sandman, while other gods and goddesses like Thomas the King of Cats, Sedna the marine goddess, and Lilith, the goddess of wronged women feature throughout the show.

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Edited by Ahana Mukhopadhyay
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