The latest theatrical adaption of Frank Herbert’s novel “Dune” premieres on October 22 in the United States, China and online via HBO Max, although it was released in theatres as early as September 15 in more than 20 other release markets. Director Denis Villeneuve had expressed concerns that streaming would drive piracy as early as December 2020, saying: “Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of “Dune’s” scope and scale. Warner Bros.’ decision (to release it simultaneously in theatres and online) means ‘Dune’ won’t have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph.”
There’s consumer demand. One commenter to an article in Deadline said: “I can’t lie. As soon as I get home I’m turning my VPN to friends to see what good copy I can watch it on.”
See reporting by Variety
See quoted article by Deadline
Why it matters
Concern over piracy is no greater with “Dune” as it should be for any other big-ticket movie. Piracy is always a risk, and it doesn’t only originate from streaming (remember camcording in theatres?). Which probably happened in the first theatrical showing, somewhere in the world.
Furthermore, the risk of piracy was just one of many reasons for the October US release timing. Many of the movie’s proponents and reviewers expressed preference for seeing “Dune” in theatres, for the immersive big-screen, big-sound experience.