After weeks of speculation, the Venice Film Festival has confirmed Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” will world premiere at the 2021 event. The science-fiction tentpole will officially debut September 3 in an out of competition slot. The announcement brings Villeneuve back to the Venice Film Festival after the 2016 premiere of “Arrival.” Warner Bros. has often used Venice to launch potential awards season tentpoles, including “A Star Is Born,” “Gravity,” and “Joker,” which won the festival’s Golden Lion.
“Dune” stars Timothée Chalamet in his first leading blockbuster role as Paul Atreides, whose family gets ownership of the dangerous desert planet Arrakis. The planet is the home of the world’s most valuable resource, a drug called spice that extends human life and gives its users super-human abilities. By taking ownership of Arrakis, the Atreides family becomes an enemy of the rival Harkonnen empire and the planet’s natives, known as the Fremen. Chalamet now has major world premieres set for Venice and Cannes, where Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” is premiering in competition.
Starring opposite Chalamet in “Dune” are Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Charlotte Rampling, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Sharon Duncan Brewster, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chang Chen, and David Dastmalchian. The script was written by Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, and Eric Roth.
While “Dune” is now set to world premiere at one of the biggest film festivals in the world, Warner Bros. has not announced any plan to switch up the movie’s controversial theatrical release. As of now, the film 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.
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 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.