‘Dune’ Director Denis Villeneuve Blasts Warner Bros.’ HBO Max Release Strategy
Warner Bros.’ decision to premiere its entire 2021 movie slate — including massive tentpoles like Godzilla Vs. Kong, Space Jam: A New Legacy, and The Suicide Squad — to the new HBO Max streaming service on the same day they open in theaters shocked the film world. The surprise wasn’t limited to subscribers and journalists, though. Even some of the filmmakers whose movies were part of the decision had no idea the move was coming.
One of those directors was Denis Villeneuve, who made Warner Bros.’ big fall 2021 release, Dune. Villeneuve penned an angry editorial in Variety, where he says he first heard that his movie was going to HBO Max “in the news” and blasted Warner Bros. (and its parent company, AT&T) for a decision that “has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history.”
And that was just the couple of sentences. He added...
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.
Villeneuve’s essay follows a similar comment from Christopher Nolan, calling HBO Max “the worst streaming service,” and slamming Warner Bros. for their decision to sacrifice their theatrical slate on behalf of HBO Max. Directors publicly castigating the massive studio that funds their work is as rare as blockbusters going straight to streaming. These truly are unprecedented times in the movie world.
There’s no question that Warners’ decision benefits HBO Max, which needs a significant boost in profile and content to compete with the likes of Netflix and Disney+. Still, it’s shocking that Warner Bros. made this movie without all of its artistic partners on board. Even if they are legally within their rights to distribute these movies on their own streaming service, who is going to want to make their next movie with Warner Bros. and AT&T after this? Do you think Denis Villeneuve is going to do another Blade Runner or a Dune sequel now? You’ve got a better chance of seeing him direct a Gigli sequel.
Despite Villeneuve’s complaints, however, Dune is still scheduled to open in theaters and premiere on HBO Max on October 1.
Gallery — All the Movies Warner Bros. Will Release on HBO Max Next Year: