Denis Villeneuve’s Dune was almost delayed into 2022. The highly anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel is currently slated for release on October 22, the third date it has occupied on the release calendar.
Dune was originally scheduled to hit theaters in December 2020, but was delayed due to the ongoing pandemic into October 2021. Warner Bros. originally planned to release it on October 1, but moved the film back three weeks. Now, Dune has premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and a lucky few critics and fans have gotten to feast their eyes on Villeneuve’s latest spectacle.
Dune will follow Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides, son of Oscar Isaac’s Duke Leto and Rebecca Ferguson’s Lady Jessica. When House Atreides is called to take stewardship over the planet Arakkis (aka Dune), Duke Leto knows a trap is being set for him, but sees no way out of it. The movie will adapt the first half of Herbet’s novel with Villeneuve set to complete the story in a sequel. However, that sequel is contingent on a number of factors, including Dune’s performance on HBO Max. A new report indicated that WB may favor HBO Max streaming numbers over box office in this situation, but, at one point, co-financier Legendary Studios wanted to avoid this situation entirely.
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According to Variety, Legendary was given the option of delaying Dune into 2022. This would put the movie outside WB’s HBO Max window and give it an exclusive theatrical release. However, Villeneuve and shareholders felt that the movie had been delayed enough and wanted to release it as soon as possible. This decision was reportedly made in August, indicating that discussions had been ongoing about Dune’s release plan throughout 2021.
With so much riding on the release of Dune, including a big budget sequel and potential spinoffs (including one Dune show already in development for HBO Max), the debate around whether or not to release the film exclusively in theaters is a contentious one. Still, the box office has not yet completely recovered from its 2020 lows, even if numbers are on the rise, making releasing Dune in theaters a tricky prospect. Major numbers are no longer guaranteed, even with an exclusive theatrical release.
In fact, it almost seems as if Dune could thrive on streaming as much as it could in theaters. Getting the film in front of as many people as possible should be the ultimate goal and HBO Max will do just that, priming audiences for a potential sequel that will dive even deeper into Herbert’s complex and complicated world. The report is also a relief for diehard Dune fans who have waited long enough to see a true adaptation of the source material on the big screen – with just under a month to go until the film’s release, Villeneuve’s movie is shaping up to be one of, if not the biggest, release of the fall season.