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‘Dune’ Release Confusion: Warner Bros. Says Denis Villeneuve’s Epic Still Set for HBO Max Plan

The film is tipped to have its world premiere at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.



Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. executives maintain Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction epic “Dune” remains set for a hybrid release October 1 in which the movie will open in theaters on the same day it becomes available to stream on HBO Max for 31 days. Confusion over the “Dune” release ignited after Deadline reported May 17 that Warner Bros. was reversing its decision. The studio announced in December 2020 that its entire 2021 film slate would receive the hybrid release model, leading to backlash from top Warner Bros. filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan and Villeneuve himself.

Deadline reported based on sources: “‘Dune’ will not adhere to the day-and-date release pattern established for the entire 2021 slate. Instead, it will premiere in Venice in September and then enter theaters for a time before finding its way to streaming service HBO Max.”

The release plan change was quickly shot down by Johanna Fuentes, head of communications at WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group. The executive wrote on social media: “‘Dune’ will premiere in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day in the U.S.” Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein also stressed there was “no change” to the October 1 release date for “Dune.” Goldstein told Deadline “Dune” will follow the rest of the studio’s 2021 slate and keep its hybrid release strategy. Warner Bros. confirmed to IndieWire the theaters-HBO Max plan is happening.

The “Dune” release has garnered attention over the last several months due to reports that Legendary, which financed 75 percent of the film’s budget, was battling Warner Bros. over the switch to a hybrid streaming release. It’s been reported that Legendary’s biggest issue with moving “Dune” to streaming is that it could impact the long-term commercial viability of the franchise, as the film is the first of a planned two-part movie. Villeneuve also wrote in an essay condemning Warner Bros.’ decision that moving “Dune” to streaming could kill his desired franchise.

“There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here,” Villeneuve added of the HBO Max decision. “It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion. Therefore, even though ‘Dune’ is about cinema and audiences, AT&T is about its own survival on Wall Street. With HBO Max’s launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention.”

“Dune” is set to open in theaters and HBO Max on October 1.

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