The movie industry appears to be getting back on its feet this summer with a number of long-awaited releases set to hit theaters in the coming months, with A Quiet Place Part II, In The Heights, Black Widow and F9 being just a select few. But despite a slew of big films back on the theatrical calendar, studios are still releasing them to streaming earlier than ever before. One major 2021 movie that has shaken up the theater vs. streaming debate this year continues to be Denis Villeneuve’s Dune.
Back in December 2020 amidst COVID-19 holiday surges, Warner Bros announced it would be releasing every one of its 2021 movies in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day, including the epic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s groundbreaking sci-fi novel. Dune filmmaker Denis Villeneuve shared his distaste in the decision, explaining that it could “kill” the chances of him making his planned sequel to tell the contents of the other half of the book.
For the last few months, there have been varying reports out there, some of which offering some hope for the possibility of Dune having an exclusive theatrical window, per Villeneuve’s wishes. The most recent rumors came from Deadline on Monday, when the source revealed that Dune may premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September and play in theaters before reaching HBO Max – but those rumors have since been refuted by Warner Bros.
Johanna Fuentes, head of communications at WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, shared on Twitter that Dune will still in fact follow the original plan as every other Warner Bros. release on the 2021 schedule and come to theaters and HBO Max on the same day in the United States. Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein also echoed her statements, saying there has been “no change” to the movie’s October release date or strategy.
The good news is that Warner Bros’ hybrid methodology recently proved to still be profitable at the box office with the release of Godzilla vs. Kong in the spring. Despite the movie premiering on streaming and theaters on the exact same day domestically, the kaiju blockbuster has made $427 million worldwide, becoming the biggest Hollywood hit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the summer movie season rolls forward with more high-profile releases, such as Black Widow coming to theaters and Disney+ Premier Access on the same day, we’ll have a greater understanding of how day-and-date theatrical and streaming strategies impact the box office. Currently, it’s tough to tell if Warner Bros’ decision will truly doom Dune, but it would be a shame if Villeneuve's vision for adapting the beloved book got cut in half.
Dune is set to come out on October 1, nearly a year after its original release date. How do you think you will be seeing the movie? Vote in our poll below.