Dune: Part Two might reportedly get delayed into 2024, due to the ongoing Hollywood labour union strikes. As per Variety’s sources, Warner Bros. is ‘strongly considering’ pushing the Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya-led grand sci-fi sequel from its November 3 slot, but hasn’t reached out to co-producer Legendary Pictures for the discussion. The company is also considering moving its two December releases — Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and The Color Purple — to the following year. The former recently finished its third round of reshoots and is slated for December 20, while the Blitz Bazawule-directed musical is scheduled to drop just five days later on Christmas Day.
While it’s certainly disheartening for fans, it does make sense for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two to get delayed, considering how heavily it’s banking on its starry cast, including the likes of the aforementioned Chalamet and Zendaya, alongside Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Florence Pugh (Black Widow), Léa Seydoux (No Time to Die), Austin Butler (Elvis), Javier Bardem, and so on. With the SAG-AFTRA strike in full effect, the actors are barred from promoting their films or participating in interviews leading up to the film’s release. A more recent effect of the strike was seen during the London premiere of Oppenheimer, where the team moved the screening event up by an hour to avoid the looming possibility of an actors’ strike. The movement eventually went through and the cast walked out of the screening in solidarity. The report notes that WB looking for a future release date indicates that the company isn’t confident that the strike will be resolved by mid-autumn/ fall.
This is very reminiscent of the year 2021 again when the COVID-19 pandemic caused limited theatres to remain open, affecting Villeneuve’s Dune, though it somehow still managed to come off as a commercial success, earning $402 million (about Rs. 3,297 crore) globally. And the only reason that was possible was that the filmmaker blasted Warner Bros. for its original decision to release its entire 2021 slate simultaneously on HBO Max and in theatres. “Dune is by far the best movie I’ve ever made. My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big-screen experience. Our movie’s image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theatres,” Villeneuve said in an open letter, at the time. “I’m speaking on my own behalf, though I stand in solidarity with the sixteen other filmmakers who now face the same fate.”
The Color Purple, the second film adaptation of the eponymous 1982 novel by Alice Walker — the first being Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film — follows the lifelong struggles of an African American woman living in the South during the early 1900s. It is co-produced by Oprah Winfrey and is being considered for a ‘robust awards campaign,’ which could be terribly affected by the strikes. Meanwhile, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which already suffered multiple delays, has now removed Ben Affleck’s cameo as Batman/ Bruce Wayne due to canonical inconsistencies caused in The Flash movie, and because new DC Studios co-heads James Gunn and Peter Safran didn’t want to promise a cinematic universe that would not come to fruition.
The November slot this year is packed with other highly anticipated films such as Marvel Studios/ Disney’s The Marvels (November 10), Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (November 17), and Ridley Scott’s Joaquin Phoenix-led Napoleon (November 22). Currently, it’s unclear whether those studios also plan on delaying its releases.
For the time being, Dune: Part Two is still slated to release November 3 in theatres worldwide.