Dune was always under the looming shadow of a potential delay, and the hammer has finally come down. Collider exclusively revealed that Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the Frank Herbert epic sci-fi novel has vacated its December release slot. Not only has it left that spot, but it is now going to be a very long time before any of us can see it.
The new release date for Dune will be October 1, 2021. Moving a film that was scheduled to release in just two months is a painful move, but shifting it ten months back is extra hurtful. Fans have been eagerly anticipating this adaptation and the first trailer certainly showed a ton of promise. It looks like that will be all the Dune we will be getting in 2020.
This delay has to be another nail in the coffin for theatrical exhibitors. Maybe that’s for the best? With Regal shutting down operations as of this Thursday and AMC looking like it’s on its last legs, the removal of Dune seems like one of the last straws. With that, the only tentpole release left on the calendar is Wonder Woman 1984. There is almost no question that it will also be moving to another release date.
It is a sad state of affairs for those of us who love movie theaters. Hopefully, things will be back to some semblance of normal in 2021 and we can all feel safe seeing Dune in a theater. If not, maybe it is time for Warner Bros. to consider alternate release options. Disney found some level of success with its decision to turn Mulan into a Premium Access release on its streaming platform, Disney+. Would Warner Bros. be willing to consider a similar option for Dune and Wonder Woman 1984? Could that become a viable outlet through their streaming service, HBO Max?
Personally, this author would happily pay a premium price to view Dune and Wonder Woman 1984 at home. Both films would surely benefit from being seen in a theater. However, the convenience and comfort of viewing those movies at home outweigh the theatrical experience. It is obvious that the films’ directors (and the studios) would prefer that they be seen on a big screen. But, we are living in a very strange and different time. Perhaps they need to adapt to that and offer consumers a streaming/video-on-demand option.
That might not be viable for Dune. The production is an enormously budgeted one and needs to make a sizable profit both domestically and internationally. Fans of the property need this to happen since Denis Villeneuve’s film only adapts the first half of the novel. If the film is not successful, there are no plans to greenlight a sequel. If a theatrical distribution model is the only way that Dune might be able to make enough money to guarantee a sequel, maybe it is worth waiting for.
The 2020 release calendar has been totally defeated at this point. Hopefully, we can all make it to 2021 and actually see some of these movies.