I saw the David Lynch version at a theater on opening night with a group of friends. We were all looking forward to it with great anticipation. I still have no idea why someone would have given David Lynch, who is an incredibly talented director, the job of bringing Dune to the big-screen. It just doesn't work. And I totally get why some people love that version. Nothing wrong with that. Like whatever you want. But it is not a good film. Not only is it poorly constructed, but it does a truly horrible job of representing the novel it aims to adapt.
Hopefully this new version will manage to be a more faithful adaptation. Fingers crossed. At the very least, it will look amazing and the special effects won't be outdated the moment they hit the screen. So, it has a leg up already. It also isn't trying to cram an entire novel into one film. Which, under normal circumstances, would be a good thing. But these are anything but normal circumstances.
As a science-fiction fan I would like to see both films in Denis Villeneuve's planned two-part series. Despite whatever issues the film may or may not have, it would be horrible to not have the second part. In many ways it would be worse than the Lynch version. The director has even teased the potential for more films based on the Dune series down the road. This all seems rather unlikely given the state of the theater world right now. With Covid and variants of Covid rampaging around the world, fights over masks, and everything else adding up to lower theater attendance - and lower revenues for studios. Can Dune do well enough to justify more chapters?
Warner Bros made the decision to release their entire 2021 slate of films both in theaters and on their streaming service. Many other films this year and last year followed suit. This remains a debatable business decision for a wide variety of reasons. People at home can buy one copy and have friends over to watch it, all for one price. People at home can watch it multiple times, mitigating the usual theater need to go back for repeat viewings. Which is what hurts films like Dune and other big-ticket blockbusters. And look, I'm not proposing that any of us feel sorry for huge corporations that make billions of dollars - all I'm worried about is the future of those investments.
Without big-ticket returns will studios continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into expensive films? Theaters have already witnessed the decline of the comedy, the drama, and other genres. With those projects now going (almost exclusively) to streaming. Even recent sure-fire tickets like the Super-Hero genre have suffered at the theater. This decline in theater-going was happening way before Covid showed up and it has only been hastened because of it.
I do enjoy the fact that streaming services seem ready to pony up for expensive properties and also give them the space they need to tell their stories. We're getting a Foundation series this Fall. And a Wheel of Time series. Not to mention the billions Amazon spent on Lord of the Rings. Perhaps, in the final analysis, projects like Dune would be better served as long format series rather than stand alone films? It is possible.
Either way I think we are witnessing the growing pains of a rapid change in the way films, stories, and the theater experience is provided to us. The way we grew up watching films is changing yet again, right under our feet. With bigger televisions and incredible sound systems available in our homes, perhaps streaming is the future. And the theater experience will be relegated to special block-buster releases. Who knows for sure.
Right now I'm just hoping that Dune doesn't suck. And that we get the chance to see Part 2.