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Watching Dune On HBO Max Is Like Driving A Speedboat Through A Bathtub, Director Says

The director of the upcoming sci-fi movie once again criticizes the decision to bring Dune to HBO Max upon release.


Dune director Denis Villeneuve has once again criticized the decision to release the upcoming sci-fi film on HBO Max on day one, lamenting that watching a film of its size and scale at home is similar to driving a speedboat in your bathtub. Speaking to Total Film, Villeneuve doubled down on his anti-HBO Max comments in the lead up to Dune's release in October.

He acknowledged that the movie business is "under tremendous pressure" due to the pandemic, but he is still upset that Dune is coming to HBO Max.

"The way it happened, I'm still not happy. Frankly, to watch Dune on a television, the best way I can compare it is to drive a speedboat in your bathtub. For me, it's ridiculous. It's a movie that has been made as a tribute to the big-screen experience," he said.

Responding to the decision by Warner Bros. to release all of its 2021 films on HBO Max day and date with theatres due in part to the pandemic, Villeneuve said it was a business move by WB's owner, AT&T, to make money.

"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," he said in December 2020.

The director acknowledged that streaming services have a role to play and in fact they are a "positive and powerful addition to the movie and TV ecosystems." Still, he said he wants movie fans to know 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," he said. "Dune is by far the best movie I've ever made. 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."

Kyle MacLachlan, who starred in the original Dune, also questioned the move to bring Dune to HBO Max. "I think the simultaneous release is kind of the wave of the future. It's disheartening though because a movie like that is meant to be seen on the large screen," he said.

Villeneuve isn't alone in criticizing WB's move to bring its 2021 film slate to HBO Max on day one. Christopher Nolan, the director of Inception and The Dark Knight, said the movie studio's 2021 films are being used as loss-leaders to subsidize HBO Max.

"In 2021, they've got some of the top filmmakers in the world, they've got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences," Nolan said. "They're meant to be out there for the widest possible audiences... And now they're being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service--for the fledgling streaming service--without any consultation. So, there's a lot of controversy. It's very, very, very, very messy. A real bait and switch."

WB will end its day-one HBO Max strategy in 2022. The company has already signed 45-day movie window deals with US movie giants such as AMC, Regal, and Cineworld.

Disney is facing some heat, too, over its decision to launch new movies in theaters and on Disney+ at the same time. Black Widow's Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over this, while the House of Mouse is also facing criticism over calling Shang-Chi an "experiment" with its release model.

Dune, which is based on the Frank Herbert novel, is slated to release in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22. It stars Zendaya, Timothee Chalamet, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, and Dave Bautista, just to name a few from its massive cast.

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