Denis Villeneuve’s Dune was originally supposed to release in theaters December 18, 2020, before Warner Bros. delayed the film and made a deal to release their 2021 slate simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. The decision was met with pushback from the other major studio funding the film, Legendary Pictures, as well as from Villeneuve himself. But now, with a new release date set for October 1, 2021, WarnerMedia still doesn’t know how the film will be released.
“I want the audience to understand that streaming alone can’t sustain the film industry as we knew it before COVID,” explained Villeneuve when the decision was made. “Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of Dune’s scope and scale. 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. This one is for the fans. AT&T’s John Stankey said that the streaming horse left the barn. In truth, the horse left the barn for the slaughterhouse.”
Now that pandemic box office numbers are starting to make a comeback with the recent release of Godzilla vs. Kong, Warner Bros. may be convinced to give Dune an exclusively theatrical release. For now, Dune is set to land in theaters and on HBO Max later this year.