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Dune director Denis Villeneuve talks about HBO Max and sequel: ‘It’s a crazy way of doing things’

Denis Villeneuve conducts Timothée Chalamet in Dune Part 1 (version 2021).

Warner Bros.

Denis Villeneuve should be having a ball right now. He just did Dune, the most important film of his career, adapting a classic science fiction novel that he has loved all his life. But he doesn’t seem to be able to enjoy it: the director is still unhappy because Dune will air on HBO Max, was only able to make half the story, and is well aware that the proposed sequel / sequel is up for grabs.

“It’s a very uncomfortable position I’m in right now,” Villeneuve said in a Zoom call with the press at the Venice Film Festival, where Dune premiered on Sept. 3. “It’s true that I only did half a movie. It’s a crazy way to do things … It’s like doing half a painting or half a symphony and saying: Wait, everyone, we will continue in two years .. But those movies are very expensive to make, and I agreed to the deal to do the first part. It’s a gamble. “

This movie is just Dune Part 1, and Warner Bros, the film studio that funded it, has yet to definitively confirm Part 2. Which is particularly frustrating, because even though Dune de Villeneuve is a heartwarming and breathtaking sci-fi epic on the grandest scale you are definitely not alone. The movie ends in an annoying and abrupt way, so it is in the middle of the story of the original Frank Herbert novel. The box office performance of Part 1 has to be strong enough to warrant Part 2, but pandemic anxiety plus the option to stream the film at home may dampen hopes for the sequel.

Dune is scheduled to open in theaters and air on HBO Max in October. 22. It is the latest in a string of blockbusters to appear on a streaming service at the same time as on the big screen, much to the displeasure of filmmakers like Tenet Director Christopher Nolan. When the Warner Bros. film studio first unveiled its plan to release the blockbusters of the year online, Villeneuve went so far as to write an article for Variety trashing Warner Bros., HBO Max, and their parent company AT&T.

Dune was delayed a year from its original 2020 release date, but the pandemic continues as the delta variant disrupts reopening plans around the world. However, Villeneuve maintains his insistence that the film be seen on the big screen. “Movies must first be experienced in theaters,” he said in Venice.

“I love streaming,” the director quickly clarified. “Streaming is a very powerful tool. I use it to revisit film history all the time. It gives me access to tons of good movies from the past, but we’re talking about the present.”

Star-studded Dune is full of shocking large-scale imagery.

Warner Bros.

Speaking of movies from the past, the 53-year-old French-Canadian writer and director said he was first in line as a Dune-obsessed teenager when David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation came out.

“I remember being hypnotized at first,” Villeneuve recalled.

But as the film progressed, Villeneuve became disillusioned by some of Lynch’s choices (or perhaps more accurately, the choices made by producer Dino De Laurentiis, who slashed and shortened the film for release).

“Lynch is a teacher,” Villeneuve said, “by far one of the best filmmakers of the last 50 years. It’s not about comparing or competing. It’s just about that book that was by my bedside for 40 years, and the ideas that love for the book was not yet on the screen, so I read it again. “

So even if Villeneuve’s experience making the movie is plagued by headaches, he can take comfort in creating a masterful sci-fi epic. “I was trying to get in touch with that energy that I had when I was 13 or 14,” he said, no doubt speaking for the many science fiction and fantasy obsessives that Dune and other science fiction galaxies discovered in their formation. years. “That very ambitious, very arrogant teenager who wanted to conquer the world and was dreaming so big. He wanted to be in touch with the visions he had at that time.”

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