Insert “the spice must flow… later” joke here. Warner Bros. has shaken up its 2021 release schedule, moving Dune once again further down the line. However, this time it isn’t as dramatic. It’s only by three weeks.
This marks the fourth release date for the sci-fi epic, based on the groundbreaking novel by Frank Herbert. It was originally scheduled for November 11, 2020, then got shifted slightly to December 18 of that year. However, the novel coronavirus pandemic caused a major shift in movie release dates and Dune got a significant delay, moving all the way to October 2021. It’s still in that month, just a little later than expected.
This comes as more people (hopefully) get vaccinated and eagerly return to movie theatres. Movies like A Quiet Place: Part II and Fast and Furious 9 are seeing success at the box office, the likes of which was missing for over a year. Still, that hasn’t stopped Warner Bros. from continuing to enact its “release everything on HBO Max simultaneously” plan this year, which the studio announced suddenly in December 2020 and includes Dune, The Matrix 4, and the already released Wonder Woman: 1984.
This move prompted a lot of negative feedback from actors, producers, and filmmakers — most notably Villeneuve himself, who released an op-ed claiming the decision “might have killed the Dune franchise” before it was set to begin.
Villeneuve has been vocal about wanting Dune to be a theatrical release only, but it looks like Warner Bros. isn’t budging, at least for now. It might be because it wants to keep promoting HBO Max, or perhaps the studio is still concerned about a resurgence of the virus as states continue to lift restrictions even as large swaths of their populations go unvaccinated. Only time will tell how the box office looks by the time Dune comes out in U.S. theatres on October 22.
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for news of an updated Australian release date.