It's beginning to look like Denis Villeneuve's Dune will have a traditional theatrical release. Warner Bros. originally announced that the long awaited movie, along with the rest of their 2021 release schedule, were going to be released in theaters and HBO Max simultaneously. The move was met with widespread criticism, especially after it was learned that Warner Bros. did not consult with anyone else before making the decision. Villeneuve and many other directors have come forward with their disappointment in the hybrid release announcement.
Legendary, who produced Dune, had no idea that Warner Bros. was going the hybrid route with their movie until it was announced online through various outlets. Obviously, the surprise announcement did not sit well with the studio, who has threatened legal action. According to sources close to the matter, Warner Bros. is looking to avoid any lawsuits and release the movie traditionally. As of this writing, Dune is still on schedule to open in October 2021.
Two weeks ago, Denis Villeneuve put Warner Bros. on blast for deciding to release Dune and other movies on HBO Max and in theaters at the same time. "There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here," said the director. "It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion." Many have stood behind Villeneuve, including Christopher Nolan. In the end, the director believes that the move could destroy the Dune franchise before it even starts. "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."
After receiving a public lashing from Denis Villeneuve and Legendary threatening legal action over Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong, it seems that Warner Bros. is changing their tune. Dune was supposed to open in theaters this month, but was delayed due to the ongoing public health crisis. Godzilla vs. Kong was supposed to have opened in theaters last month. As for how the rest of the releases that Warner Bros. has on tap for 2021, it is unclear how this could affect them.
Denis Villeneuve has called Dune the best movie that he has ever made. "My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big screen experience," he said. "Our movie's image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theaters." While streaming is just fine for a lot of things, there are directors like Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan who craft cinematic experiences that are meant to be seen on the big screen while having a shared experience with others. Deadline was the first to report on Dune possibly getting a traditional theatrical release next year.