The ensemble of A-list actors, with Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya at the forefront, is unable to promote Denis Villeneuve’s sequel until the labor dispute gets settled.
A significant adjustment has been made to the November box office schedule, with Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated Dune: Part Two now postponed to the following year due to the ongoing actors’ strike, which is preventing the film’s stars from promoting their projects.
The big-budget sequel from Legendary and Warner Bros. was originally scheduled to premiere on November 3 in North America, aligning with its global release. However, it will now make its domestic debut on March 15, 2024. Simultaneously, Legendary and Warner Bros. have also delayed Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire by one month, pushing its release to April 12, 2024, which was previously the release date for Dune.
Shifting the release date of the next Godzilla installment had a domino effect, leading to the rescheduling of New Line and Warner Bros. Pictures Animation’s Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim from April 12, 2024, to December 13, 2024. Traditionally, New Line’s live-action LOTR productions have been a December tradition.
Dune 2 is currently the most significant casualty of the ongoing strikes’ impact on the 2023 theatrical release calendar, which isn’t favorable news for theater owners. Nevertheless, the situation could have been much worse. Notably, Warner Bros. is maintaining its schedule for three major December releases: Wonka (December 15), Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (December 20), and The Color Purple (December 25).
Insiders suggest that Warner Bros. remains committed to the theatrical experience, and given the disruptions caused by the pandemic, it is reluctant to make extensive changes, even in the face of uncertainty due to the concurrent WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
A film like Dune, boasting an ensemble cast led by Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, would face challenges in realizing its full box office potential without strong global promotion from its talented cast. Legendary, the studio behind this high-profile sequel, made the decision in coordination with Warner Bros., their distribution partner. An awards campaign would similarly present difficulties.
New additions to the Dune franchise comprise Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken, and Léa Seydoux. Meanwhile, familiar faces returning to the cast include Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, and Charlotte Rampling.
Insiders indicate that Legendary had no choice but to make this decision, as Warner Bros. would have had to kickstart the promotional campaign for Dune 2 in early September. There’s optimism among insiders that this extended timeline will allow the cast to engage in a global marketing campaign as originally planned. The film’s new release date will coincide with a comprehensive Imax release. March is considered a prime period for launching major cinematic events, thanks to spring break and the upcoming Easter holidays.
In 2021, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune achieved a robust and encouraging worldwide box office gross of over $402 million, a noteworthy feat considering the challenges posed by the pandemic and its simultaneous release on HBO Max. The sequel aspires to surpass this success for various compelling reasons.
Villeneuve, speaking at CinemaCon in April, explained, “Part One is characterized by its contemplative nature, whereas Part Two transforms into an action-packed, epic war film. It’s notably more intricate, featuring entirely fresh settings and a departure from any sense of repetition. We’ve introduced entirely new sets, offering a completely fresh experience.”