Dune is streaming on Netflix and Max because the streaming wars are over

Would you like to see Dunesa big, sweeping sci-fi epic starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya?

If so, you might want to head over to Netflix, which began streaming the 2021 film this week.

Again, if you have Max, the streaming service owned by Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), you can watch Dunes for almost two years now, and it makes sense: WBD also owns the film studio Warner Bros., which produced Dunes. And you can still look Dunes Now on Max.

Often the same film is played on several services: you can also, for example, watch The wolf of Wall Street on both Netflix and Paramount+. But Dunes is different for several reasons. And the reason its appearance on Netflix is ​​important is because it tells you how Hollywood and Wall Street have changed the way they look at streaming.

A very brief history of the streaming wars: For years, movie studios and TV networks were happy to sell their old stuff to Netflix. Then they realized they had helped turn Netflix into a major competitor and changed their minds. Under Disney’s leadership, major studios stopped selling their best work to Netflix and instead put those films and TV shows on their own services.

That’s why Jason Kilar, the former CEO of WBD’s predecessor, thought he was doing the right thing by making all of the Warner Bros. films released in 2021, including Dunes – are available to stream on his service the same day they are in theaters. Part of the logic was that the pandemic would make it difficult for more people to watch movies in theaters. The other part was that Kilar wanted to give people a reason to subscribe to what was then called HBO Max.

But that was the old way the big media thought about the streaming wars: spend a ton of money creating competitors to Netflix and not worry about losing money, because that didn’t bother Netflix either.

That view became irrelevant more than a year ago when Netflix lost customers and saw its stock run out, and then Wall Street decided it would no longer encourage media companies to lose money by building streaming services as quickly as possible.

Now Wall Street is pushing big content companies to cut their costs and find new ways to make money from what they have. That’s exactly what WBD did earlier this year when it licensed several HBO shows to Netflix. And that’s at least part of what’s going on here with Dunes.

However, one difference is that when it came to HBO shows, WBD sold its competitor Netflix older titles such as Brotherhood or Ballersbut not his outstanding things, for example Game of Thrones or Continuity. Dunes It’s a recent and big movie: It grossed more than $400 million, even though it was released at a time when many moviegoers were still avoiding movie theaters due to the pandemic.

So you might think that WBD would want to keep Dunes about Max, especially since its sequel, which was originally planned to debut this fall, will be released next spring. New movie = new opportunity to tell people about an old movie and where to exclusively watch it, right?

Nope. Instead, WBD people told me, the company made two calculations: one was that licensing Dunes as a “co-exclusive” with Netflix, just like selling the HBO show to Netflix would bring in some cash for the cash-strapped company as it’s about $50 billion in debt. Secondly, putting the first Dunes on Netflix could help attract more ticket buyers to Dunes 2 when it debuts next year.

And this second idea seems… plausible? For beginners, Dunes has been streaming on Max for a while now, so anyone who’s been wanting to sign up to watch it has probably already done so. Plus, it’s entirely possible that Netflix, with its huge subscriber base, could actually generate interest in the new film.

After all, it’s been known for a long time that reruns can work very well on Netflix. If this: breaking Bad, Office, Friends, and now … Suits? And HBO programming chief Casey Bloys told me last week that HBO reruns on Netflix have caused a surge in interest in the same shows on Max.

That’s a very long way of saying that while there are a lot of people in Hollywood concerned about big media’s pivot to streaming, particularly people wanting to make or sell projects, streamers would have snapped them up a couple of years ago and wouldn’t have won. Don’t touch it now—there’s some upside, at least for consumers: If your favorite movie isn’t on the streamer you subscribe to, just wait. It might get there eventually.

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