Denis Villeneuve Blasts WB’s Streaming Deal With HBO Max
Last week, Warner Bros. rocked the film industry by announcing that its entire 2021 film slate will stream on HBO Max day-and-date with theaters. Because the world is still dealing with COVID-19, many subscribers celebrated this news as a safe way to watch new movies. Unfortunately, several prominent filmmakers have lashed out at the studio, claiming that it’s bad for an already struggling business. Now, Dune director Denis Villeneuve has added his own name to this list.
In a new editorial published on Variety, Villeneuve expressed his disappointment with Warner Bros.’ announcement. He even went so far as to accuse WB’s corporate parent, AT&T, of “hijacking” the studio. Additionally, Villeneuve suggested that the deal is mainly an attempt by AT&T to rescue itself from dire financial straits.
“There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here,” wrote Villeneuve. “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.”
Villeneuve, who is also directing a Dune spinoff series for HBO Max, acknowledged that streaming has value in today’s entertainment landscape. Regardless, he insisted that the medium won’t be able to keep the business afloat on its own, especially when it comes to tentpole pictures with price tags as big as Dune’s.
“Warner Bros. might just have killed the Dune franchise,” added Villeneuve. “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.”
Dune was originally supposed to hit theaters next Friday, December 18. But earlier this year, the pandemic forced the studio to delay the film to October 1, 2021. Villeneuve supported this decision and recognized that public health comes first. However, he pointed out that with all of the progress that’s currently being made on vaccines, life should be back to normal by next fall and people can start filling movie theaters again.
“Dune is by far the best movie I’ve ever made,” continued Villeneuve. “My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big screen experience. Our movie’s image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theaters. I’m speaking on my own behalf, though I stand in solidarity with the sixteen other filmmakers who now face the same fate. Please know I am with you and that together we are strong. The artists are the ones who create movies and series.”
What do you think of Villeneuve’s response to the HBO Max deal? Let us know in the comment section below!
Recommended Reading: Dune (Penguin Galaxy)
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