Looks Like Dune's HBO Max Release Might Not Be Set In Stone, And You Can Thank Godzilla

Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in Dune

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Right before 2020 ended, Warner Bros caused quite a stir when it announced that it would adopt the same simultaneous release plan used on Wonder Woman 1984 for all its 2021 movies, i.e. they would open in both theaters and on HBO Max on the same day. There were many Hollywood parties displeased with this news, including Legendary Entertainment, which funded a large part of WB releases Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune. While a deal was eventually reached to allow Godzilla vs. Kong to play on HBO Max, evidently such an arrangement hasn’t been nailed down yet for Dune, and you can thank the clash between the giant reptile and towering gorilla for that.

Opening on March 31, and thus setting itself with an extended opening weekend, Godzilla vs. Kong has been performing incredibly well in theaters. As of Sunday, the latest MonsterVerse movie raked in $48.5 million domestically, and its current worldwide total sits at nearly $286 million worldwide. So although the COVID-19 pandemic remains an ongoing concern and is still keeping theaters from running business as usual, this just goes to show that there’s still a desire to watch major motion pictures on the big screen. Evidently Legendary Entertainment is keeping this in mind for Dune, as Deadline reports that it hasn’t been decided if the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel will be screened on HBO Max for a one-month period in addition to its theatrical run.

So although footage from Dune has been used in HBO Max (which you can sign up for with this link) advertising over the last several months, there is a scenario where Legendary argues that Godzilla vs. Kong’s performance is proof enough that Dune should be kept solely in theaters. Legendary was initially so dissatisfied with Warner Bros’ day-and-date plan that it was considering legal recourse against the film studio. Dune director Denis Villenueve also expressed his frustration with this plan in an op-ed, saying how his movie was “designed” to be seen in theaters and alleging that WB “might just have killed the Dune franchise.”

The only reason Godzilla vs. Kong ended up playing in both theaters and on HBO Max is because Warner Bros and Legendary worked out a new arrangement at the beginning of 2021, but the production company’s negotiations with the film studio are ongoing. As things stand now, Dune is slated to come out in October, so by that point, the pandemic may not be nearly as much of an issue as it is now, even with theaters starting to reopen the doors. Should that be the case, then it’s entirely possible WB would be ok with keeping Dune strictly in theaters, but on the other hand, perhaps the studio is still determined to share it on HBO Max along with the rest of its cinematic offerings this year.

With Dune’s current release six months away, this matter will need to be straightened out sooner rather than later. And keep in mind, HBO Max will still be home to Dune content in the near future, as a prequel series called Dune: The Sisterhood is in development. As for the main movie, it will adapt roughly the first half of the original Dune novel, and its ensemble cast includes Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgard and Dave Bautista, among others. In addition to directing the feature, Denis Villenueve shares screenplay credit with Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth.

Dune opens in theaters on October 1. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on that movie and if/when it’s officially announced a sequel is on the way, and feel free to learn what other theatrical offerings arrive later in the year with our upcoming 2021 movies schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.