Dune producers are fighting to keep the movie a theatrical release, report says

dune release date
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Legendary Entertainment – the producers behind upcoming blockbusters Dune and Godzilla vs Kong – will reportedly challenge Warner Bros. over its decision to shift its entire 2021 film schedule to a “hybrid” of theatrical releases and same-day streaming via HBO Max.

A report by Deadline suggests the production company was “blindsided” by the decision, which comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to shutter cinemas around the world, causing chaos for release schedules and revenue. 

According to the report, Legendary is proposing a solution which sees Denis Villeneuve’s hotly-anticipated Dune debut exclusively in theaters before moving to streaming services. The report says Godzilla vs King Kong could stay a hybrid HBO Max release, under certain circumstances.

According to the report, Legendary thinks the move is necessary to preserve the “franchise potential” of Dune – which is part of a planned two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel. The film is also going to lay the groundwork for a Dune television series on HBO Max, called Dune: The Sisterhood.

The production company is apparently hopeful that Dune’s new October 1 release date – almost a year after its intended December 2020 release – will coincide with the worldwide distribution of readily available Covid-19 vaccines, allowing theaters to re-open as normal.

We've reached out to Warner Bros to see if it has any response to the suggestion that a Dune theatrical-first release is a possibility, and whether there are any developments on the release of Godzilla Vs. Kong.

An unpopular decision 

The announcement that Warner Bros. entire slate of 2021 movies will debut concurrently on HBO Max and in theaters was met with criticism from some of Hollywood's biggest names. The likes of Villeneuve and Tenet director Christopher Nolan have publicly denounced the move.

Dune director Villeneuve, in particular, recently criticized the decision for proving the studio has “absolutely no love for cinema, nor the audience”, adding “it is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion."

It’s clear, then, that the director believes Dune is a film meant for the big screen.

Axel Metz
Senior Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.