New ‘Dune’ trailer teases Denis Villeneuve’s epic vision of Frank Herbert novel

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Denis Villeneuve takes his biggest swing yet with “Dune,” the kickoff for a planned two-part epic adaptation of the Frank Herbert science-fiction novel. But despite the impressive visuals and scope displayed in the full-length trailer Warner Bros. released for the forthcoming film on Thursday, Villeneuve will not be able to participate in the usual precursor run that often accompanies directors on course for the Academy Awards. Because the film will release simultaneously in theaters and via HBO Max on October 22, Villeneuve is ineligible for the Directors Guild of America Awards.

That doesn’t mean awards season will be devoid of Villeneuve love. The director, who received both an Oscar nomination and DGA Award nomination for “Arrival,” is set to receive the Toronto International Film Festival Ebert Director Award, and “Dune” will debut at the Venice Film Festival as well as TIFF.  (The Telluride Film Festival, where Villeneuve screened “Arrival” in 2016, does not announce its lineup in advance.)

As for the film itself, “Dune” is a massive undertaking that features an all-star cast led by Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya. Other cast members include Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Javier Bardem, and Jason Momoa among many others. Here’s the official description, provided by Warner Bros.

A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, “Dune” tells the story of Paul Atreides (Chalamet), a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive.

Villeneuve is among the very early contenders for Best Director, while “Dune” is expected to be a major Oscar player as well. That’s why some eyebrows were raised when the DGA announced it would abandon its pandemic-era eligibility rules last month, which allowed for streaming films to compete. Going forward this year, any movies released after June 15, 2021, must be theatrical-only for a period of seven days to qualify for the DGA Awards.

“After over a year of darkness, theater marquees lighting up across our nation have been a welcome sight for our healing communities,” DGA president Thomas Schlamme said in a statement to Deadline last month. “We celebrate the return of the important role that theatrical cinema plays in bringing together audiences as they collectively experience films as the filmmakers intended them to be viewed.”

Villeneuve has not publicly commented on the DGA decision, but he was largely critical of the WarnerMedia decision to release “Dune” and its entire 2021 movies slate on HBO Max in addition to theaters.

“I learned in the news that Warner Bros. has decided to release ‘Dune’ on HBO Max at the same time as our theatrical release, using prominent images from our movie to promote their streaming service. With this decision AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history,” Villeneuve said in a statement to Variety. “There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here. It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion. Therefore, even though ‘Dune’ is about cinema and audiences, AT&T is about its own survival on Wall Street. With HBO Max’s launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention.” (AT&T has since announced plans to sell off WarnerMedia to Discovery.)

In that same interview, Villeneuve said “Dune” was “by far the best movie I’ve ever made.”

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