Denis Villeneuve Says Hollywood ‘Is About Wall Street’ Now and ‘Creativity Is Restricted’: ‘Freedom and Taking Risks’ Will ‘Save Cinema’

Denis Villeneuve is gearing up to release “Dune: Part Two” in a theatrical landscape that is considerably different from when his first “Dune” movie opened in 2021. In response to the COVID pandemic, Warner Bros. made the controversial decision to release its entire 2021 film slate in theaters and on Max (then known as HBO Max). It was a decision that drew ire from Villeneuve.

“There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here,” Villeneuve wrote in an essay for Variety at the time. “It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion. Therefore, even though ‘Dune’ is about cinema and audiences, AT&T is about its own survival on Wall Street. With HBO Max’s launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention.”

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Villeneuve continued, “Warner Bros.’ sudden reversal from being a legacy home for filmmakers to the new era of complete disregard draws a clear line for me. Filmmaking is a collaboration, reliant on the mutual trust of team work and Warner Bros. has declared they are no longer on the same team.”

“Dune” still managed to earn $402 million at the worldwide box office despite being available to stream in many markets, and now box office prospects are high for “Dune: Part Two” as it prepares to roll out exclusively in movie theaters. Both the box office and movie theaters have rebounded considerably since the days when the first “Dune” movie opened, although they are nowhere near pre-pandemic heights.

“Cinema, since its beginning, has had multiple crises,” Villeneuve now told Time magazine. “There’s always an adjustment, but the river still keeps flowing. The theatrical experience is here for good. It will prevail, it will transform.”

Villeneuve added that he is less concerned about AI and more worried about “the fact that we behave like algorithms, as filmmakers.”

“We’re in a very conservative time; creativity is restricted,” he added. “Everything’s about Wall Street. What will save cinema is freedom and taking risks. And you feel the audience is excited when they see something they haven’t seen before.”

Villeneuve is surely hoping “Dune: Part Two” is something audiences haven’t see before. In addition to being exclusively released in movie theaters, the “Dune” sequel’s box office might also be bigger because it’s a “much better” movie. At least that what Villeneuve thinks.

“There’s something more alive in it,” Villeneuve said during a press conference in South Korea last year. “There’s a relationship to the characters. I was trying to reach for an intensity and a quality of emotions that I didn’t reach with ‘Part One’ and that I did reach with ‘Part Two.’ I’m not saying the film is perfect, but I’m much more happy with ‘Part Two’ than I was with ‘Part One.’ I cannot wait to share it with the fans and the moviegoers.”

“Dune: Part Two” opens in theaters March 1 from Warner Bros.

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