Behind the scenes, filmmakers and performers aren’t happy with WarnerMedia’s decision to release their upcoming big movies, some of which were delayed multiple times, dually to theaters and HBO Max.
After Christopher Nolan – and briefly, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins – one auteur under contract with the Warner studio voicing his displeasure, while standing up for theater-going, is Dune’s Denis Villeneuve.
Villeneuve, who wrote that he poured his heart and soul into the Frank Herbert adaptation for three years, bore his heart and soul again in a Variety essay that found support from two of his film’s key players: Josh Brolin and, one man always at the ready to stand by his bros, Jason Momoa.
Brolin and Momoa shared the same post containing the essay on Instagram, urging their followers to read it.
The post has an introduction which says, “Long live the theatre experience!!! Important article by Denis, director of Dune.”
You can see Brolin’s version below.
According to Villeneuve himself, he didn’t know about Warner’s strategy until it hit the press and the Dune franchise – expanded into two movies as part of his deal and a TV series – is in jeopardy if it goes to HBO Max.
“Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of ‘Dune’s’ scope and scale,” wrote Villeneuve in his essay. “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.”
Continuing, he called Dune “by far the best movie I’ve ever made,” and explained his “team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big screen experience” down to the image composition and sound design.
“I’m speaking on my own behalf, though I stand in solidarity with the sixteen other filmmakers who now face the same fate,” Villeneuve adds. “Please know I am with you and that together we are strong.”
He holds to the idea “the future of cinema will be on the big screen, no matter what any Wall Street dilettante says.” Cinema is more than a business to Villeneuve; “it is an art form that brings people together, celebrating humanity, enhancing our empathy for one another,” through “communal storytelling.”
Movies are “one of the very last artistic, in-person collective experiences we share as human beings,” he writes.
“Once the pandemic is over, theaters will be filled again with film lovers,” he contends. “That is my strong belief. Not because the movie industry needs it, but because we humans need cinema, as a collective experience.”
Villeneuve would entreat the parent company of WarnerMedia, AT&T, to act responsibly. “So, just as I have both a fiduciary and creative responsibility to fulfill as the filmmaker, I call on AT&T to act swiftly with the same responsibility, respect and regard to protect this vital cultural medium,” he said.
“Economic impact to stakeholders is only one aspect of corporate social responsibility,” Villeneuve would continue with commentary bound to rub many the wrong way. “Finding ways to enhance culture is another.”
Many more can agree, on the other hand, when Villeneuve states “The moviegoing experience is like no other.” He continued, “In those darkened theaters films capture our history, educate us, fuel our imagination and lift and inspire our collective spirit.”
In closing, Villeneuve wrote, “It is our legacy. Long live theatrical cinema!”
Dune will be at cinemas as well as on HBO Max in October. Jason Momoa stars as swordsman Duncan Idaho and Josh Brolin as weapons master Gurney Halleck – played in David Lynch’s version by Patrick Stewart.