As previously reported, citing concerns over the pandemic, Warner Bros. will send all of its 2021 titles to HBO Max the same day each of those films is set to hit theaters.
In a new op-ed published by Variety, Villeneuve said Warner Bros.’s parent company, AT&T, “hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history.”
“There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here,” Villeneuve continued. “It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion. Therefore, even though Dune is about cinema and audiences, AT&T is about its own survival on Wall Street.”
While agreeing that streaming services “are a positive and powerful addition to the movie and TV ecosystems,” Villeneuve argued that “streaming alone can’t sustain the film industry as we knew it before COVID. Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of Dune’s scope and scale.” As such, Villeneuve added, “Warner Bros.’ decision means Dune won’t have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph. Warner Bros. might just have killed the Dune franchise. This one is for the fans. AT&T’s John Stankey said that the streaming horse left the barn. In truth, the horse left the barn for the slaughterhouse.”
In his op-ed, Villeneuve stressed the safety concerns resulting from the pandemic, which is why he “understood and supported the decision to delay Dune’s opening by almost a year. The plan was that Dune would open in theaters in October 2021, when vaccinations will be advanced and, hopefully, the virus behind us.”
Villeneuve concluded his op-ed by declaring Dune “the best movie I’ve ever made” and calling on AT&T “to act swiftly with the same responsibility, respect and regard to protect this vital cultural medium.”
“Economic impact to stakeholders is only one aspect of corporate social responsibility. Finding ways to enhance culture is another. The moviegoing experience is like no other. In those darkened theaters films capture our history, educate us, fuel our imagination and lift and inspire our collective spirit. It is our legacy.”
As it stands now, Dune is scheduled to open in theaters and premiere on HBO Max on October 1st, 2021. The sci-fi epic stars Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem, among others.
Villeneuve isn’t the only filmmaker to skewer Warner Bros. for its plans. Over a series of interviews last week, Christopher Nolan deemed HBO Max as “the worst streaming service” and blasted the distribution deal as the byproduct of “arrogance.”
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