Dune star Timothée Chalamet made his Saturday Night Live hosting debut last night and, during the sketch show's curtain call also showed support for Legendary Pictures, the production studio behind his upcoming film Dune. During the curtain call, Chalamet wore a Legendary-branded hoodie, something that could be perceived as the actor standing behind the production studio's decision to challenge WarnerMedia over the recent decision to release the entire 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max.
Earlier this month, Warner Bros. stunned not just fans but the film industry as well when they announced that its entire 2021 film slate would follow the release strategy planned for Wonder Woman 1984: films will still open in theaters where available, but will also debut simultaneously on HBO Max. This announcement comes at a time when many theaters remain closed or are seeing dramatically reduced box office numbers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This means that some major films, including The Suicide Squad, The Matrix 4, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Dune are not going to have the big theatrical release expected for such films -- and it's a decision that isn't sitting well with directors, studios, and actors.
Last week it was reported that Legendary Pictures -- which is behind Godzilla vs. Kong in addition to Dune -- is reportedly considering a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Pictures over the HBO Max release decision. The reports indicate that the lawsuit may be more about trying to strike a new deal between the two parties, one that would guarantee a fair financial return to Legendary who co-financed both films and could be looking at a loss. There are also some questions about the legality of Warner Bros. release strategy, though ultimately it will come down to the details.
Dune director Denis Villeneuve has himself been outspoken about the release strategy, blasting HBO Max for "hijacking" Warner Bros. The filmmaker wrote in Variety that he learned about the decision to release Dune on the streaming platform from the news and accused WarnerMedia's parent company AT&T of having no love for cinema or audiences.
"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. With this decision, AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history," Villeneuve wrote."
"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," he continued. "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."
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