The health crisis that continues to wreak havoc on the world has rocked the entertainment industry in a number of ways. In the film world, a lot of movies shifted from straightforward theatrical releases to being sent straight to VOD or streaming. Going into 2021, WarnerMedia is looking to have its cake and eat it too, as it was announced at the beginning of the month that all of Warner Bros’ movies next year will premiere simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max for a one-month window. This drew ire from many Hollywood parties, including Legendary Entertainment, which bankrolled a large chunk of the production costs on upcoming WB releases Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong.
Legendary Entertainment is so displeased by the Warner Bros streaming plan that it was reported several weeks ago that the production company was considering legal recourse against the film studio. Now word’s come in from Deadline that Legendary and Warner Bros have have come up with a new solution that, if enacted, will see Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong’s releases being handled in different ways. This deal would keep Dune as a traditional theatrical release in order to maximize its franchise potential and because it’s slated for October 2021, when COVID vaccines are expected to be widely distributed. Godzilla vs. Kong, on the other hand, would still simultaneously be released in theaters and on HBO Max, but only if Warner shells out around $250 million or more to Legendary.
To provide some extra context, Warner Bros first announced this theatrical/HBO Max hybrid model for Wonder Woman 1984, which drops on Christmas Day. However, while the film studio worked out new deals for star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins ahead of announcing this release plan to the public, those who worked on WB movies coming out in 2021 were apparently blindsided by this drastic release shift, Legendary Entertainment included. The production company reportedly felt that the Dune and MonsterVerse franchises could be “tarnished” if the first Dune movie and Godzilla vs. Kong were made available on HBO Max at the same time they hit theaters.
Again, this new deal between Warner Bros and Legendary Entertainment hasn’t been cemented yet, but if it is, Dune will revert to a traditional release, which should please director Denis Villenueve. Describing Dune as the “best movie” he’s ever made," the filmmaker said that his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel is meant to be a “unique big screen experience.” Villenueve also argued that if Dune premieres on HBO Max at the same time as in theaters, it won’t have have the chance to “perform financially in order to be viable,” thus paving the way for piracy and possibly killing any hope of launching a film franchise.
As for Godzilla vs. Kong, it’s currently slated for May 2021, when COVID will likely still be drastically impacting daily life. So that movie can’t be handled the same way as Dune, leaving Legendary to be open for the theatrical/HBO Max model in this particular instance if more money is dished out. As for where the $250 million value came from, that was approximately the amount that Netflix was willing to pay to acquire the fourth MonsterVerse entry before WarnerMedia put the kibosh on that in favor for releasing it on HBO Max.
Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune. The plan right now is for the former to arrive on May 21, 2021, and the latter will follow on October 1, 2021. Fund out what other movies are supposed to come out next year with our 2021 release schedule.