Denis Villeneuve’s lavish adaptation of Dune was once set to arrive later this month, before being pushed back almost an entire year to October 2021 due to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. There were already question marks surrounding the movie’s commercial prospects when adult-skewing sci-fi can often be a tough sell to general audiences, something the filmmaker experienced himself after his critically acclaimed Blade Runner 2049 underperformed at the box office, and now that the $165 million epic is going to debut on HBO Max the same day that it hits theaters, turning a sizeable profit will be even more difficult.
Of course, this isn’t great news, especially when the director admitted that Dune only tells a partial story, with the second half of the book being held back in the hopes that the first installment will prove popular enough to generate a sequel. It remains to be seen what’ll happen on that front, but the first trailer was as visually stunning as we’ve come to expect from a talent like Villenueve, while members of the creative team have gone so far as to call it this generation’s The Lord of the Rings, which is a lofty benchmark to try and reach.
It’ll be a while before we can see for ourselves how things have turned out, but Dune has now officially been rated, and unsurprisingly, the blockbuster was slapped with a PG-13, although ‘sequences of strong violence, some disturbing images and suggestive material’ would indicate that it won’t exactly be a family-friendly romp.
Following Warner Bros.’ decision to send their entire slate of 2021 releases straight to streaming, there’ve been reports that Legendary Pictures could take legal action having provided the majority of the budgets for Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong, and given the risky nature of the project, you can understand why the production company would be keen to ensure that they stand the best chance of making their money back. For now, though, it’s set to debut on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously.