More changes could be on the horizon for Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE now that Legendary Entertainment is challenging WB’s plans to launch a hybrid theatrical HBO Max release model for its 2021 film slate. You see, Legendary financed 75% of the budget for Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong, two films that are expected to earn big at the box office, presuming they ever make it into theaters. Per Warner’s new release strategy, both films will open in theaters on the same day they become available to stream exclusively on HBO Max for 31 days. However, a new report coming out of Deadline suggests that Legendary could prevent Dune from going to HBO Max.
Per Deadline’s report, “Legendary is in a big fight that might result in lawsuits after it financed 75% of tentpoles Dune and Godzilla Vs. Kong and was completely blindsided. Rumors have the solution to that breach being to preserve Dune as a traditional theatrical to preserve its franchise potential and since its October 1 release date falls well after the estimated late spring date when Covid vaccines should achieve herd immunity. Godzilla Vs. Kong might stay an HBO Max hybrid in its May 21 slot, but only if Warner Bros. makes a deal with Legendary that uses as a base the $250 million value established when the film was shopped earlier to Netflix.”
When Legendary originally announced their irritation with Warner’s bold, new plan to release Dune via HBO Max, the studio argued that releasing Villeneuve’s latest sci-fi odyssey on the streaming service could potentially kill its chances at becoming a full-blown franchise. As it stands, Dune is the first of a two-part plan for the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel. The film is also designed to pave the way for a television series, which could also be put into jeopardy if the film doesn’t sell like gangbusters at the box office.
There’s also the matter of Godzilla vs. Kong, which Legendary was thinking about selling to Netflix before Warner Bros slid in for the steal. Netflix would have purchased the tentpole monster mash for $250 million, but WB wasn’t having it. That said, Legendary is looking for WB to pony up the $250 million if they want to hold onto the long-gestating kaiju battle.
As of this moment, it sounds as if Legendary is willing to sacrifice Godzilla vs. Kong to HBO Max if Dune is preserved for theaters.
“There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here,” Villeneuve said when he heard about Warner Bros.’ decision to move Dune to HBO Max. “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. With HBO Max’s launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention.”
While a decision as to what to do with either film has yet to be sorted out, both Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong are scheduled for a hybrid release on October 1, 2021, and May 21, 2021, respectively.