In early December, Warner Bros. unexpectedly announced that it intends to release potential film hits like Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong and Matrix 4 simultaneously in cinemas and on the HBO Max platform. This decision has, of course, to do with the protracted pandemic situation, which is having a strong impact on the film industry. It also came as a surprise to Legendary Entertainment, which owns the rights to the upcoming movie adaptation of Frank Herbert's science fiction novel, and which covered 75% of the budget for Denis Villeneuve's movie, as we recently mentioned. According to the latest reports from Deadline, if there is a misunderstanding with Warner Bros. about Dune's premiere, there may eventually lead to a court battle.
It's hard to be surprised at the outrage of Legendary's owners, who weren't even warned about Warner Bros' plans. The expectations towards Dune are great and the release of a film as expensive as Blade Runner 2049 on HBO Max on the day of its premiere may destroy the plans for a sequel and further development of the brand. Legendary is convinced that delaying the movie's release on October 1, 2021 will increase the chance of a financial success, especially in the face of the gradually introduced vaccine against COVID-19. In any case, the company does not want to risk with the simultaneous release on HBO Max, which can not only bring huge losses, but also completely bury the brand.
The situation is similar with Godzilla vs. Kong, but in this case Legendary may agree to a hybrid distribution model on condition that Warner Bros. pays a compensation. We are talking about $250 million, which is exactly what it was offered by Netflix for the movie (no deal was made in the end). The negotiations on Dune, which is probably the largest film of 2021 in Warner Bros.'s offer, will not go so easily, but whether Legendary will be forced to file a lawsuit is yet to be seen. For now, this step is considered a last resort.