WarnerMedia's recent announcement that they will henceforth be releasing their latest movies on HBO Max at the same time as in theaters has sent shockwaves through Hollywood. Some partners of the industry giant are threatening lawsuits, while others are vowing never to work with Warner again. Denis Villeneuve, who partnered with Warner to make the upcoming movie Dune, only to discover his film will also be going the streaming route, wrote an essay for Variety where he blasted AT&T, Warner's head company, for putting profits above love for cinema.
"I learned in the news that Warner Bros. has decided to release Dune on HBO Max at the same time as our theatrical release, using prominent images from our movie to promote their streaming service. With this decision AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history. There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here. It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion. Therefore, even though Dune is about cinema and audiences, AT&T is about its own survival on Wall Street. With HBO Max's launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.' entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience's attention."
Clearly, Denis Villeneuve is in no mood for tact or diplomacy in describing Warner's actions with regard to Dune, and their creative partnerships in general. The filmmaker goes on to explain that although he sees online streaming as a positive addition to the world of visual storytelling, movies like Dune belong in theater halls.
"Streaming services are a positive and powerful addition to the movie and TV ecosystems. But I want the audience to understand that streaming alone can't sustain the film industry as we knew it before [the current global health emergency]. Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of Dune' scope and scale. Warner Bros.' decision means Dune won't have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph. Warner Bros. might just have killed the Dune franchise. This one is for the fans. AT&T's John Stankey said that the streaming horse left the barn. In truth, the horse left the barn for the slaughterhouse."
Directed by Denis Villeneuve from a script he co-wrote with Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts, Dune stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Zendaya as Chani, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Javier Bardem as Stilgar, Chang Chen as Dr. Wellington Yueh, Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr. Liet Kynes, Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, Dave Bautista Glossu Rabban, David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries, Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Stephen Henderson as Thufir Hawat and Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck. The film arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on October 1, 2021. This news comes via Variety.