“Dune” director Denis Villeneuve is starting to do various press for the upcoming film and was eventually asked about the Scarlett Johansson/Disney lawsuit by the French-Canadian outlet La Presse.
As you’ve likely heard, the lawsuit concerns “Black Widow,” the way it was given a hybrid release— theatrical and Disney Premier Access— and how the PVOD side is negatively impacting her potential box office bonus earnings (an estimated loss of $50 million). That very public dispute has continued today, with Disney trying to take the lawsuit into private arbitration, away from public eyes, and Johannson’s reps calling the tactic “misogynistic.”
Asked about the situation, Villeneuve was unabashedly on the side of the former Marvel actress with the blunt response, “What would happen if the opposite happened and we did not honor the contracts we signed on our side?”
He continued by declaring a desire to put a theatrical exclusively clause into his future film contracts, “In addition, it is wrong to believe that cinema on the big screen is not doing well. But the industry is on a rollercoaster ride, which is at odds with Wall Street’s desire for stability. And these platform subscriptions provide studios with fixed income. I have nothing against platforms, quite the contrary. They are an extraordinary tool to give us access to the memory of cinema. But a film’s career must first start with the big screen. From now on, I will also contractually require my films to be released exclusively in theaters.”
Certainly isn’t the worst idea for actors and filmmakers to put their feet down by putting theatrical windows in their contracts. Since, you know, they’re the ones spending multiple months or even years making these movies.
It sounds like Villeneuve still is upset about “Dune” heading to HBO Max on the same day as the theatrical release. This shouldn’t be too surprising to people following Denis Villeneuve’s Variety editorial bashing WarnerMedia’s move to do a day-and-date release for “Dune.”
Villeneuve isn’t an outlier here. Christopher Nolan shared similar sentiments. There were indications he is looking to work with another studio and is severing a longtime working relationship with Warner Bros. Pictures.