Dune director Denis Villeneuve isn’t happy his little film is getting a simultaneous HBO Max and theatrical release, and had some strong words for Warner Bros. in a opinion article he wrote for Variety:
With this decision AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history. There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here. 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.
No response from Warner Bros. on any of their director’s responses to HBO Max so far. But unlike Nolan, Villeneuve does acknowledge that pandemic:
Public safety comes first. Nobody argues with that. Which is why when it became apparent the winter would bring a second wave of the pandemic, I understood and supported the decision to delay “Dune’s” opening by almost a year. The plan was that “Dune” would open in theaters in October 2021, when vaccinations will be advanced and, hopefully, the virus behind us. Science tells us that everything should be back to a new normal next fall.
“Next fall” is right when Dune releases, on October 1st. I hope he’s right, but I think this “new normal” will include far fewer audiences going into theaters, vaccine or otherwise.