Dune director Denis Villeneuve slams Warner Bros controversial streaming move

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Denis Villeneuve.
Denis Villeneuve.
Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images
  • Director Denis Villeneuve slammed Warner Bros for its decision to release films via streaming next year.
  • "There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here," wrote the filmmaker in an article for Variety.
  • Filmmakers Christopher Nolan and Judd Apatow have also spoken out against the move.


Dune director Denis Villeneuve on Thursday slammed the decision to debut all Warner Bros films via online streaming next year, accusing parent company AT&T of trashing his movie and the legacy of its historic studio with the unprecedented move.

The scathing article by Villeneuve published in industry bible Variety is the latest - and arguably angriest - in a series of Hollywood broadsides against AT&T over the decision.

The company's announcement last week that all 2021 movies would appear on streaming and in US theatres simultaneously sent shockwaves through the industry, where a "theatrical window" of around 90 days is traditionally observed.

AT&T insists its move was driven by Covid-19 and is temporary, but critics from Hollywood unions and Tenet director Christopher Nolan to the theatre chains themselves have accused it of manoeuvring to prop up its recently launched HBO Max streaming service.

"With this decision, AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history," wrote Villeneuve.

"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."

Villeneuve called HBO Max's launch "a failure thus far" and added: "Warner Bros. might just have killed the Dune franchise."

The Canadian director described his adaptation of Frank Herbert's epic 1965 science fiction novel as "by far the best movie I've ever made".

He is the latest to attempt to portray the challenging story on the big screen, after David Lynch's widely panned 1984 movie of the same name.

The new film, starring Timothee Chalamet, was initially tipped to be one of this year's biggest theatrical events. But its release date, originally scheduled for November, was twice delayed due to coronavirus restrictions.

"The plan was that Dune would open in theatres in October 2021, when vaccinations will be advanced and, hopefully, the virus behind us," wrote Villeneuve.

He added: "My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big screen experience. Our movie's image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theatres."

Villeneuve predicted the move would mean his film "won't have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph".

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight Tenet director, Christopher Nolan said his reaction to the announcement by Warner Bros was one of disbelief.

"There's such controversy around it, because they didn't tell anyone. In 2021, they've got some of the top filmmakers in the world, they've got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences."

Judd Apatow, who has no upcoming films with Warner Bros said at Variety's Virtual FYC Fest that: "It's the type of disrespect that you hear about in the history of show business. But to do that to just every single person that you work with is really somewhat stunning," reports Entertainment Weekly.

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