When parent company AT&T forced Warner Bros.' hand and decided to put all their 2021 movies on HBO Max, filmmakers were upset. Director of Dune, Denis Villeneuve, penned an essay where he bemoaned the decision, worrying that this was the beginning of the end of theatrical distribution. 

He wrote, “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. 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 added, “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. 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.”

That scathing letter pretty much summed up everyone's frustrations at the time. With the Delta variant raging across the world, HBO Max still plans to release the film on the same day it hits theaters. There has been much talk about audiences flocking to theaters to support their favorite filmmakers, but it really has not happened this summer. 

Still, filmmakers are trying to rouse support not only for their work, but for their friends. Chloé Zhao, director of Nomadland and friend of Villeneuve, has seen Dune, and is urging us all to go to the theater to watch it on the biggest screen possible. 

She told Sight & Sound, “It gives me hope that a filmmaker like Denis is able to really harness his vision and put together something that’s so incredible, so cinematic. I’m just blown away by the experience I had in that room. But I’m terrified about how many people are or aren’t going to have that experience like I did, in a theatre, and what that means for the future.”

This is the first Dune movie, with a sequel that still has not been shot. Warner Bros. is definitely testing the audience's taste for this kind of movie before making the next, and if people don't pay to see it in theaters, there is doubt it will venture into making the next one. 

Warner Bros. is opening Dune in theaters on October 22, and it will stream the same day on HBO Max. 

Will you see Dune in theaters? Let us know in the comments.