Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” cast is coming to the defense of their writer-director as tension explodes between team “Dune” and Warner Bros. over the studio’s decision to shift the science-fiction tentpole to a hybrid release in which it will open in theaters at the same time it becomes available to stream on HBO Max for 31 days. Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin shared Villeneuve’s blistering Variety essay on their social media pages, encouraging their followers to read the director’s “important article” on why moving to “Dune” to HBO Max is such a big deal. Momoa and Brolin echoed Villeneuve’s championing of movie theaters by adding, “Long live the theater experience!”
Warner Bros. shocked the industry by moving its entire 2021 film slate to the theatrical-HBO Max release model, a decision that has been scorned by the studio’s own filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Villeneuve. Directors working outside of Warner Bros. have also condemned the studio. Judd Apatow, who has long made films for Universal, said the Warner Bros’ decision is “disrespectful” to filmmakers who had no idea their films would be moving to a hybrid release model. Villeneuve said he found out about “Dune” moving to HBO Max when the news embargo broke.
In his essay published late Thursday, December 10, Villeneuve said the studio is threatening the future of his “Dune” franchise by shifting the release to HBO Max. Villeneuve agreed to direct “Dune” for Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. on the condition he was allowed to split Frank Herbert’s novel into two films. The studios also announced a “Dune” television series as an expansion of the film series.
“Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of ‘Dune’s’ scope and scale,” Villeneuve wrote. “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.”
Villeneuve continued by claiming “Dune” is “by far” the best movie he has ever directed and that his entire production team “devoted more than three years of [their] lives to make it a unique big screen experience.” The director added, “Our movie’s image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theaters.”
“I’m speaking on my own behalf, though I stand in solidarity with the sixteen other filmmakers who now face the same fate,” the director concluded. “Please know I am with you and that together we are strong. The artists are the ones who create movies and series.”
Momoa stars in “Dune” as Duncan Idaho, the swordmaster of House Atreides, while Brolin plays Gurney Halleck, the weapons master of House Atreides. Both characters serve as mentor figures to “Dune” protagonist Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet. For now, Warner Bros. is releasing “Dune” in theaters and on HBO Max for 31 Days on October 1, 2021.
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