Warner Bros. Pictures’ $160 million sci-fi spectacle “Dune” could be facing a fate worse than giant sandworms: online leakers.
As confirmed by Variety, at least three major illegal streaming sites are hosting HD quality streaming copies of “Dune,” complete with bells and whistles such as English, Danish, Spanish and Arabic subtitles. Beyond that, thousands of users are hosting and sharing copies on torrent sites.
As a point of comparison, recent blockbusters such as “Black Widow” and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” also have thousands of users seeding copies on torrent sites, but rarely with such a high resolution copy. Nearly every movie hits the pirate market in some capacity, from ripped indie VODs on the day of release to different waves of blockbuster leaks, from shaky handheld copies via foreign market theatrical openings to increasingly clear files during the run of the film. Screeners of awards hopefuls are also distributed and lead to an inevitable spike in piracy.
Insiders say that the “Dune” piracy is within normal studio expectations, and is tracking to be half as much as other blockbusters in 2021.
Given the science fiction density of the “Dune,” computer leakers could be a prime audience, possibly eating away at box office returns. Yet interesting discussions have cropped up on Reddit’s “Piracy” subreddit, where users say they feel responsible for the success of Denis Villeneuve’s movie.
“I pirated it, and I also intend to pay and watch it in IMAX. This film deserves being viewed in the best way possible,” wrote one user.
“Beautiful fucking movie. Definitely should see it on the big screen. I’m all about piracy, but this movie deserves to be given some love. Besides, I want to be sure we get a part 2,” wrote another.
A recent report from the Global Innovation Policy Center estimated that the U.S. economy loses between $29.9 billion and $71 billion in revenue each year due to piracy.
Warner Bros. representatives declined to comment to Variety about the leak.
“Dune” is set to be released on HBO Max on Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. ET, the same time as preview screenings — a change from the other HBO Max hybrid releases, which have hit the streaming platform on Fridays. The film is opening in 4,100 theaters in the U.S. and Canada and is projected to make $30 million to $40 million in its first three days of release. It has already made $129 million at the international box office.