The Dune release has been pretty set in stone for a while. The epic sci-fi adaptation of Frank Herbert’s groundbreaking novel has been set for December 18 and has not moved from that date at all. Regardless of the looming threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Warner Bros. has remained adamant that Denis Villeneuve’s massive blockbuster film will be in theaters for the holidays.
Is that still the case? A recent rumor has cropped up that the Dune release could be shuttered and reconfigured for 2021. There has been no official confirmation of this. Plus, there is a new trailer for the film coming out tomorrow. You can get your first tease of the trailer right here:
Would Warner Bros. be reconfiguring the Dune release if they felt comfortable putting out a trailer tomorrow? It is possible that tomorrow’s trailer could announce a brand new release date, but that is highly unlikely. However, these next two months are going to be something of an experiment for big movie studios. As we talked about in our breakdown regarding Tenet‘s release, Warner Bros. and all the other major studios are going to be watching box office numbers very closely. If returns don’t pick up, Warner Bros. might not see the value in releasing Dune in 2020.
It is worth noting that the same source reporting this did correctly deliver the scoop about Ben Affleck returning as Batman in The Flash film. Is the same source correct about the Dune release? Maybe! Warner Bros. knows that Dune needs to be a pretty massive success to justify its release. The epic film is only the first half of a duology, and the second film will not get made unless Dune is financially successful. And while no official budget has been released, some reports say that Villeneuve’s gargantuan adaptation has a cost of close to $200 million. With that kind of price tag, Dune needs to be a sizable hit in both the United States and internationally.
It is also possible that the Dune release could take inspiration from how Warner Bros. has been slowly rolling out Tenet in the United States. Though that has not yet raked in a sizable amount of cash, the lack of direct competition for almost a month could mean that Tenet will get to its financial goals in a slow and steady way. Could a similar strategy play out for Dune? Possibly, but Dune would be relying on attendance during the month of January, a historically poor turnout month for moviegoing in a normal year.
But, 2020 is not a normal year and the Dune release is going to find that out one way or another. If it ends up moving, it will likely have a better chance at making its money back. Unless theater attendance really picks up over the next few months, it is probably a good idea for Dune to move to a spot in 2021 where it could better dominate the movie landscape. But, as far as this being a surefire decision that has already been made? There is nothing to directly support that just yet. We will have to see how things shake out with tomorrow’s trailer and the remainder of 2020.