In a stinging editorial for 'Variety' online, Dennis Villeneuve has spoken out against Warner Bros. move to stream 'Dune' on HBO Max at the same time as it's release in theatres, claiming that the film had been 'hijacked' for purposes of promoting streaming services.
"With this decision, AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history. 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," wrote Villeneuve.
The director went on to appreciate the value of streaming services but also pointed out that films like 'Dune' were meticulously crafted by directors and technicians for a specific theatre experience that could not be replicated online.
"Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of "Dune's" scope and scale. 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," he laments.
The controversial move has already sparked a backlash from the Legendary studio that is financing 'Dune' as well as another big-budget thriller 'Godzilla vs Kong'. Reports suggest that Legendary may even take legal action against Warner Bros. The company has sunk more than 335 million dollars into these two films but was reportedly not told of Warner Bros. plans to stream its entire 2021 lineup.
In his editorial, director Villeneuve also called for telecom and streaming companies to recognise the importance of theatre-going experience and not kill a cultural and social medium for profit.
"Since the dawn of time, humans have deeply needed communal storytelling experiences. Cinema on the big screen is more than a business, it is an art form that brings people together...Once the pandemic is over, theatres will be filled again with film lovers. That is my strong belief. Not because the movie industry needs it, but because we humans need cinema, as a collective experience," he said.