Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have delayed the release of “Dune,” the big-budget sci-fi epic from director Denis Villeneuve. It will no longer premiere on Dec. 18 and is now slated to debut in theaters on Oct. 1, 2021.
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. declined to comment.
The move was expected after the studio pushed “Wonder Woman 1984” back from early October to Christmas Day, putting the comic book sequel’s big-screen debut one week ahead of “Dune.” In normal circumstances, but especially during the pandemic, Warner Bros. wouldn’t cannibalize ticket sales for a fellow studio release. “Dune” was originally scheduled for November, but its release date has been shuffled multiple times amid the coronavirus crisis. It is one of many anticipated films that was shelved as a result of movie theater closures in March.
Warner Bros.’ “The Batman” — starring Robert Pattinson and directed by Matt Reeves — is also currently dated for Oct. 1, 2021, so there’s a chance the Caped Crusader’s next big-screen adventure will be pushed back again.
News of “Dune’s” delay comes days after James Bond sequel “No Time to Die,” which was originally set to launch at the end of November, was pushed back to 2021. That decision prompted Regal, the second-biggest U.S. theater chain, to close down its venues after reopening in August. If high-profile movies continue to vacate their release dates, other circuits may be forced to shut down again as well. However Cinemark, another major theater operator, announced on Monday that it has no plans to close U.S. venues.
“Cinemark’s reopening plan was designed with multiple contingencies in place to ensure we are able to be nimble and react as needed to this ever-changing environment,” the company said in a statement. “We do not currently have plans to close our U.S. theatres and are continuing to align with demand, including reducing operating hours and days while we await new studio content to encourage theatrical moviegoing.
Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” also from Warner Bros., was hoping to spark a nationwide return to the movies and give rival studios the confidence to unveil tentpoles during the pandemic. But attendance has been slower than expected. “Tenet’s” lackluster U.S. ticket sales has forced studios to pump the brakes on releasing mega-budgeted movies in the midst of a global health crisis. Box office analysts don’t expect many new films to grace theaters until important moviegoing markets, such as New York City and Los Angeles, are granted permission to reopen. Given the reluctance to debut blockbusters, the holiday season — typically one of the busiest times of year for multiplexes — will likely be lighter than usual.
“Dune” is based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, and stars Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin and Zendaya.