Dune: Denis Villeneuve says Warner Bros ‘might just have killed the franchise’ by moving release to HBO Max

Filmmaker called the move a ‘desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention’

Louis Chilton
Friday 11 December 2020 12:30
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Dune Official Trailer

Dune director Denis Villeneuve has condemned Warner Bros’ decision to move its 2021 film slate to HBO Max.

The studio revealed last week that all of next year’s blockbuster releases would arrive on the streaming service in the US at the same time as in cinemas.

Villeneuve, known for his acclaimed sci-fi films Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, has directed the forthcoming blockbuster adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune

In a new essay for Variety, the filmmaker said: “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.”

“Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of Dune’s scope and scale,” he added. “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.”

The first in a planned franchise, Dune features a starry cast including Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem.

It was originally scheduled to be released in December 2020, before being pushed back until October 2021 as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Villeneuve is not the only director to have spoken out against Warner Bros’ decision to move content to HBO Max. Christopher Nolan, director of the Dark Knight trilogy, has criticised the move, describing the streaming plan as a “mess”.

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