IMAX CEO explains why Dune 2 won’t be delayed: ‘Don’t disrespect Timothée Chalamet’

According to IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond, contrary to a recent report, Dune: Part Two is unlikely to be delayed. Based on Frank Herbert’s beloved novels, Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve, was released in 2021 to rave reviews and moderate box office success. The director is set to continue the story of Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet, in the highly anticipated Dune: Part Two, but the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike has cast doubt on the film’s November release date.

Now that the release date for Dune: Part Two is getting closer, Gelfond’s comment during the IMAX Q2 earnings announcement, transcribed from The Motley Fool, suggests that an earlier report that Warner Bros. considering postponing a sequel, possibly not accurate. In his explanation, the CEO points out that from a financial standpoint, postponing the film might not make much sense. Gelfond’s full commentary follows:

“That’s right. Dune in particular has another big movie coming out around the same time, Marvel’s Marvel, and we can’t show it because we’re busy with Dune. So if Dune gets rescheduled, we’re showing Marvels and Marvel’s backup movie is not the worst place in the world, but as far as Dune is concerned, my personal opinion is that it’s unlikely to be rescheduled, and this opinion is based on data in the sense that I spent a lot of time for facts.

“Dune is already at the center of the marketing campaign. There are trailers. There are many materials. They made a big presentation, talked a lot. In fact, Denis Villeneuve spoke at the IMAX CEO Forum. So he’s already gone. If you return it, then in the future you will have to double these costs in order to withdraw it again. Dune also has a very long IMAX run, up to five to six weeks.

“And he was lucky that there were no other conflict projects. But if they rescheduled it to next year or another time, they probably wouldn’t have that much screen time. And let me remind you that IMAX was responsible for 20% of the growth of the first Dune. And I know there are a lot of marketing plans for Dune 2.

“If they reschedule Dune 2, it will be related to operating costs, call it 10% or whatever. So how are they going to cover this cost and other additional costs? IMAX distribution is a very important element of their release plan. And, as I said earlier, in my opinion, it is impossible to reproduce the duration of this projection.

“When I look at it from their point of view, in terms of numbers and money, it just doesn’t make sense for them to move it because, again, the only reason to move it would be to say the actors went on strike and they want to premiere and get him on The Tonight Show or whatever the actors put on, but without disrespecting Timothée Chalamet.

“Will they be able to make up for a six-week IMAX run? Will they pay back the cost of capital and management within one year? Will they reschedule it to an uncertain year, not knowing what they’ll have to compete against when there’s virtually no competition in the market right now? It does not make sense. If you look at other films, I think this is one of the most compelling reasons not to transfer them. But the same reasoning can be applied to everyone else. I spoke to the Warner Brothers distributor, they don’t know where this press article came from.

“And I was told that this article is not true. So, I can only give you my logical point of view, but I’m pretty sure it won’t change.”

The article explains that SAG-AFTRA recently joined the WGA strike, effectively shutting down Hollywood as actors protest fair contracts. This means that Guild Actors cannot participate in productions covered by AMPTP, nor can they participate in any marketing activities for these films.

With a Dune: Part 2 cast that includes major stars such as Chalamet, Zendaya, Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Josh Brolin and Rebecca Ferguson, Warner Bros. expects these stars to take part in marketing to encourage viewers to watch the film. In particular, younger actors such as Chalamet, Zendaya, Pugh and Butler are especially appealing to Gen Z audiences, and gaining support from young viewers can be critical to a film’s success.

Despite the marketing value of these stars, Gelfond’s comment suggests that the Dune: Part Two delay is likely to do more harm than good. In addition to the money already invested in marketing, the long IMAX window, combined with little competition in theaters, means the sequel still has a good chance of success. Warner Bros. has yet to formally resolve the uncertainty surrounding the release date of Dune Part Two, but Gelfond’s latest comment suggests that audiences may actually see the film this fall.

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