Dune Director Thinks HBO Max Debut Will Prevent Necessary Sequels From Happening

Last week's announcement that the entire 2021 slate of Warner Bros. films would debut on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters resulted in incredibly mixed reactions. Fans were mostly thrilled to know that, regardless of the state of the coronavirus pandemic next year, they'll safely be able to see films in their homes, but a number of filmmakers have expressed their disappointment at their films being relegated to being viewed on TVs despite being designed for theaters, in addition to knowing these films were being used to promote the company's new streaming service. Dune director Denis Villeneuve also noted that this approach will assuredly have at least some impact on box office performance, which has him thinking that his planned follow-up films are now in jeopardy.

"Streaming services are a positive and powerful addition to the movie and TV ecosystems," Villeneuve shared in a letter for Variety. "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. Warner Bros.’ decision means Dune won’t have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph. Warner Bros. might just have killed the Dune franchise."

While some audiences will surely be excited to check out the film on the streaming service on October 1, 2021, it's hard to overlook his comments and the perspective he brings.

One thing that audiences can count on with any Villeneuve film is that it will be a compelling and layered narrative, with Rotten Tomatoes calculating that his worst-reviewed film, 2013's Enemy, still earned 71% positive reviews. His best-reviewed film is 2016's Arrival, which the aggregator site calculated to have 94% positive, with 2015's Sicario not far behind with 92% positive, and 2017's Blade Runner still following closely with 88% positive reviews.

Sadly, despite his critical accomplishments, his box office performances might not have been quite as strong, with Arrival being his only film to crack the $100-million mark domestically.

One reason previous adaptations of Frank Herbert's novel fell short of expectations was the dense source material making it difficult for anyone to adapt. Villeneuve confirmed earlier this year that his plan was for this film to get at least one follow-up, if not more. If the execs at Warner Bros. are solely looking at the costs vs. rewards of the project, getting more Dune will surely be doubtful.

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The new Dune hits theaters and HBO Max on October 1, 2021.

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