‘Dune’ producers threaten to sue if film goes straight to streaming

Warner Bros' decision to release a slate of titles via cinemas and streaming simultaneously has drawn heavy criticism from filmmakers

Legendary, the producer of Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited Dune remake, is reportedly threatening lawsuits if the film does not see a standalone cinema release.

According to Deadline, the company, which funded 75% of the movie, was said to be “blindsided” by the move from the movie’s distributor, Warner Bros, to redirect its 2021 slate of movies to a “hybrid” release – meaning they will arrive in cinemas and on streaming service HBO Max on the same day.

The report also claims that talent reps are “fighting with Warner Bros for back end compensation” that they say would have been earned had the company not opted for earlier streaming releases.

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Dune was initially scheduled for global release on December 18. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, it will now be released on October 1, 2021.

The decision has already been publicly criticised by Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, and Villeneuve.

In a searing essay for Variety published on December 10, the Dune director said there was “absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience” in Warner Bros’ decision.

“It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion,” Villeneuve wrote.

“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.”

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Nolan also lambasted the move, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service.”

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