Dune director Denis Villeneuve has hit out at Warner Bros. about its streaming plans for the coming year. The studio recently dropped the bombshell that its entire 2021 slate of movies would have hybrid releases, debuting simultaneously in cinemas and on HBO Max – and, according to Villeneuve, he found about the streaming plans at the same time as everyone else.
“I learned in the news that Warner Bros. has decided to release Dune on HBO Max at the same time as our theatrical release, using prominent images from our movie to promote their streaming service,” Villeneuve wrote in a scathing attack on the studio in 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.”
He acknowledged the importance of streaming services, but emphasised that they won’t be able to prop up the industry. “Streaming services are a positive and powerful addition to the movie and TV ecosystems,” he said. “But I want the audience to understand that streaming alone can’t sustain the film industry as we knew it before COVID. Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of Dune’s scope and scale.”
The adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel focuses on a planet called Arrakis (also known as Dune), the only source of the most valuable substance in the universe – a drug called ‘the spice’ that extends human life, provides superhuman levels of thought, and makes faster-than-light travel possible. It features an all-star cast including Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson and Jason Momoa.
Villeneuve added: “Dune is by far the best movie I’ve ever made. My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big-screen experience. Our movie’s image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theatres.”