Chloe Zhao is an Oscar-winning filmmaker. That automatically makes her a bit of an expert on the artistic merits of a film, right? So, seemingly fans should take her opinions on films with a bit more confidence, as Zhao has proven that she knows a thing or two about making solid feature films. All that to say if Chloe Zhao says “Dune” is “incredible,” people should listen.
Speaking to Sight & Sound magazine, Zhao talked about the future of the theatrical experience and specifically talked about how she’s worried that cinematic features such as “Dune” will be skipped by filmgoers who opt instead to watch it on their TVs or mobile devices because of streaming options. This, obviously, is due to Warner Bros.’ insistence on releasing its 2021 features day-and-date on HBO Max and in theaters, including the highly-anticipated “Dune.”
Here’s an excerpt from Sight & Sound’s September issue (via IndieWire):
“Zhao seems well-positioned to comment on where on earth — or elsewhere — the medium might be heading. Not that she’s at all decided on the matter. ‘I’m both really hopeful and also really terrified,’ she says, ‘so it varies every day.’ The day we speak, she’s on the hopeful end. She’s just come from an early screening of Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi spectacle ‘Dune,’ and it has her feeling pretty bullish on the current state of cinema — artistically, at least.”
“It gives me hope that a filmmaker like Denis is able to really harness his vision and put together something that’s so incredible, so cinematic,” Zhao added. “I’m just blown away by the experience I had in that room. But I’m terrified about how many people are or aren’t going to have that experience like I did, in a theatre, and what that means for the future.”
Of course, it isn’t just Zhao who is concerned that “Dune” will be seen primarily on TVs and mobile devices. Almost immediately after the news was released about WB sending films to HBO Max the same day as theaters, Villeneuve himself wrote an op-ed that bashed the decision.
At the time, he said, “Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of ‘Dune’s’ scope and scale. Warner Bros.’ decision means ‘Dune’ won’t have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph. Warner Bros. might just have killed the ‘Dune’ franchise. This one is for the fans. AT&T’s John Stankey said that the streaming horse left the barn. In truth, the horse left the barn for the slaughterhouse.”
Despite the impending streaming/theatrical hybrid release, the marketing for “Dune” has definitely showcased the more epic, spectacular set pieces that demand audiences watch on the biggest possible screen. However, with COVID cases rising and a clear reluctance from film fans to venture out to the theaters, when “Dune” arrives in October, we could be seeing a ton of folks opt for the home-viewing experience instead.
“Dune” is set to arrive in theaters and HBO Max on October 22.