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.
- Dune trailer offers a first look at 2021's biggest movie
- Christopher Nolan says HBO Max is “the worst streaming service”
- The Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad and Dune will come to HBO Max the same day as they hit theaters
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.