In the midst of the HBO Max wrangling that’s been going on as of late, some voices have been louder in their dissent than others. Dune director Denis Villenueve is one such voice, and much like fellow Warner Bros auteur Christopher Nolan, he’s not happy about the decision to send the studio’s entire slate out in simultaneous theatrical and streaming debuts. But Villeneuve has a pretty valid reason for his angry and heartfelt reaction, as the director is convinced that Dune is the best movie he’s ever made.
Writing his reaction for Variety, Denis Villenueve laid out an impassioned defense for his very strong feelings about the fate of his Legendary co-produced epic. Meant to be the start of a franchise adapting the epic of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi series to life, Dune is one of many films that will be on HBO Max for a month, while also being in theaters. And that potential damage to the box office picture feels like a slap in the face, when put up against these remarks from Villeneuve:
Dune is by far the best movie I’ve ever made. My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big screen experience. Our movie’s image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theaters.
It is difficult to argue with Denis Villeneuve’s case for Dune remaining a theatrical experience, especially when he's putting Dune above the rest of his stellar filmography. Projects like Arrival, Prisoners, and Blade Runner 2049 are nothing to sniff at, so seeing this man put Dune above all else is quite a huge claim. The trailer that debuted not too long ago is all the proof you need that this is absolutely a movie that needs to be seen in a theatrical context. Reading how Mr. Villeneuve is upset that the work he, his cast, and his crew has done for three years of production will be headed to homes much earlier than intended, one can sympathize. Just thinking about it makes us want to watch that trailer again, and you can do that below,
Even looking at Dune’s impressive and ready to be expanded world on a computer screen makes it feel like there’s a bit of disservice being done to Denis Villeneuve’s film. As such, this is probably one of the reasons why the movie was pushed out to a later date in the first place. But perhaps the greatest case that Villeneuve can make for his own work, and its need to be on a theater screen, comes from this snippet from his staunch defense:
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.
While Patty Jenkins may be ok with Wonder Woman 1984 not making any money, that property is a golden goose on the Warner Bros lot, and will pretty much always be in play. Conversely, Dune is a legacy property that needs to prove itself before it can live up to its fully imagined potential; and that’s why Denis Villeneuve is fighting for this film’s day in cinematic court. As the original Frank Herbert run of the saga has six books, and two movies alone are being allocated to bringing the first novel onto the big screen, what happens next is going to weigh very heavily on whether Dune will be able to do its thing in the future.
As it stands Dune will be in theaters, and on HBO Max, starting October 1, 2021. Thankfully, that’s still within the realm of anticipation, but there’s still plenty of other adventures slated to debut before then. To that point, you should check out the 2021 release schedule, and see what else is headed down the road to a theater, or streaming service, near you.