Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune movie will debut only in theaters, as WarnerMedia has reversed its day-and-date decision regarding HBO Max and that particular big-budget title.
Deadline reports that the sci-fi movie will premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September ahead of an exclusive theatrical release on Oct. 1. Warner Bros. had already reached a deal with Regal Cinemas to restore the 45-day theatrical window in 2022 before titles begin streaming on HBO Max. Dune will now fall under that arrangement, and will likely be WB‘s only 2021 movie to do so, with late 2021 awards contenders like Will Smith‘s King Richard and Clint Eastwood‘s Cry Macho still expected to premiere simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max.
The report comes on the same day that AT&T has struck a deal to spin off its WarnerMedia assets to Discovery, which prompted a report that WarnerMedia‘s Jason Kilar is already negotiating his exit after a year in the top job. It was Kilar who delivered AT&T‘s decision that all of Warners‘ 2021 titles would debut on HBO Max, and though the strategy has proved effective, it also infuriated the creative community.
While I understand Kilar‘s reticence to reveal AT&T‘s master plan to above-the-line talent and filmmakers on an entire slate of 17 films, there’s no question that the surprise message was poorly communicated to many A-listers, including Christopher Nolan, who still hasn’t revealed what his next movie will be… or where he will make it. The studio did, however, shell out millions of dollars to dozens of profit participants on movies that were affected, including Wonder Woman 1984 duo Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins.
One reason that Dune may be getting an exclusive theatrical release is the fact that Legendary financed 75% of the budget, and execs over there were incensed that they didn’t receive any advance warning and that their prized investment would be offered up to HBO Max subscribers at no additional cost, all to build up a streaming service that Legendary has nothing to do with. Legendary also financed 75% of Godzilla vs. Kong, which performed well both in theaters and on the streamer.
Dune is WB‘s fall tentpole this year so it’s appropriate that it boasts a jaw-dropping cast that includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista and Stellan Skarsgard. I can’t wait to see this movie on the big screen, but if you’ve given up on theaters, you’ll just have to wait 45 days before the spice starts flowing on HBO Max.