While fear might be the “mind-killer,” Dune director Denis Villeneuve has it out for something somehow even more untouchable: the cinema-killer, aka the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While COVID-19 has caused immeasurable strife for the entire entertainment industry (and of course the world-at-large), Villeneuve has been repeatedly been pretty vocal about how much damage it has done to Dune’s theatrical release in particular.
After repeatedly pushing back the film’s release date in order to ensure a proper opening and penning an open letter to HBO Max telling them their decision to release Dune on their streaming service shows “no love for cinema, nor for the audience,” Villeneuve is back to reminding folks just what they’re missing if they choose to experience the film from the safety of their own home. In a recent interview with Total Film Magazine, Villeneuve called the pandemic “the enemy of cinema” before further elaborating on why he’s so unhappy with the notion of his upcoming film releasing on HBO Max alongside its box office debut:
First of all, the enemy of cinema is the pandemic. That’s the thing. We understand that the cinema industry is under tremendous pressure right now. That I get. 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.
While Villeneuve’s sentiments do make some sense (and this problem could impact Dune Pt. 2 being made), the rising number of COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant aren’t budging anytime soon and presumably neither is Dune‘s October 22 release date. Needless to say, this leaves a whole lot of at-risk folks unable to see it in theaters regardless of how great the experience might be. While giant sandworms might not look as cool on a 65-inch TV, for some folks it’s the only option.
What ultimately makes Villeneuve’s words a bit frustrating is that back in his open letter last December, the director stated he understood “public safety comes first” and claimed, “nobody argues with that.” He then went on to explain that’s why he was being accommodating and pushing the Dune release date back a year, to a time when he believed “everything should be back to a new normal” and the film could have a proper box office opening. However, here we are, nearly a year later, and things are decidedly still not normal and the public is still not safe. It’s not what anyone wanted, but is the harsh reality.
Just about everyone is continuously making sacrifices and accommodations, so here’s hoping Villeneuve eases up a little bit about this when Dune finally premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22.