Reports say that the film’s production company, Legendary Entertainment, hasn’t yet firmed up plans with Warner Bros. to release Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic in cinemas and on HBO‘s streamer on the same day (October 1, 2021).
Deadline writes that the success of Legendary’s other film with Warner Bros., Godzilla vs. Kong, “makes a clear argument in Legendary’s negotiations with Warner to keep that all-star sci-fi movie strictly in theatres”. This weekend Godzilla vs. Kong set a new pandemic box office record by scoring the biggest US opening weekend in over a year – taking $48.5million (£35m) – when it was released simultaneously in cinemas and on the streamer.
Villeneuve himself has spoken out against the idea of a hybrid release. Last December, the Dune director said Warner Bros. “might just have killed the franchise” with its proposals. In an op-ed he explained his fears that the move to HBO Max will directly impact the film’s chances of success. “Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of Dune‘s scope and scale,” he wrote.
And earlier this month, Kyle MacLachlan, who starred in David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation, said it’s “disheartening” to think Villeneuve’s version will hit a streaming service when it was designed for the “big screen”.
Christopher Nolan also criticised the decision last year. In an interview with ET, the Tenet writer and director called the move “very, very, very, very messy”, aiming his criticism at the apparent suddenness of the announcement.
“There’s such controversy around it because they didn’t tell anyone,” he said. “In 2021, they’ve got some of the top filmmakers in the world, they’ve got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences.”