Legendary Entertainment is reportedly set to challenge Warner Bros. over the latter’s decision to send Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” and Adam Wingard’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” to HBO Max on the same day they are set for theatrical releases. According to Deadline, Legendary “has or will send legal letters to Warner Bros. as soon as today.” IndieWire has reached out to Legendary for further comment. Warner Bros. announced last week its entire 2021 film slate would adopt the “Wonder Woman 1984” release strategy by opening in theaters and HBO Max at the same time. All films will be available to stream for their first 31 days of release.
Sources told Deadline that executives at Legendary Entertainment found out about “Dune” and “Godzilla vs. Kong” moving to a hybrid theatrical-HBO Max release only 30 minutes before Warner Bros. went public with the announcement. As reported earlier this month, Legendary allegedly had Netflix lined up to purchase “Godzilla vs. Kong” for around $250 million, but Warner Bros.’ parent company WarnerMedia blocked the decision.
Deadline adds that Legendary Entertainment and its partners “provided 75 percent of the $165 million or so net budget of ‘Dune'” and “put up a similar amount of the funding on the ‘Godzilla Vs. King’ film.” The issue Legendary executives are now worried about is whether or not moving these films to streaming will tarnish “the long term viability of the franchises.”
Wingard’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” is the fourth entry in Legendary’s MonsterVerse following “Godzilla,” “Kong: Skull Island,” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” Villeneuve’s “Dune,” meanwhile, is intended to kick off a series of film and television series rooted within the universe created by Herbert’s six novels. Villeneuve only agreed to direct Warner Bros. and Legendary’s “Dune” adaptation because they were letting him split the novel into two films. No details about a second Villeneuve “Dune” movie have yet to be revealed.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” is currently scheduled for release in theaters and on HBO Max on May 21, 2021. “Dune” is set to follow with a hybrid opening on October 1, 2021. Villeneuve’s science-fiction epic was originally scheduled to open in theaters nationwide on December 18, 2020, but the pandemic pushed back the project into 2021.