The impact of the writers and actors’ strikes continue to be felt in Hollywood. As studio representatives and the Writers Guild/SAG-AFTRA (the latter of which represents performers) argue in the press and over social media about fair contracts, the big companies are facing the prospect of releasing expensive titles without name stars available to promote them.
So, what are they doing? Delaying the movies, of course! The latest to push their plans back to next year is Warner Bros., which has just announced a big shift for ‘Dune: Part Two’ to March next year.
Director Denis Villeneuve’s giant science fiction action epic, the follow-up to 2021’s successful first entry, and the continued adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sprawling tome, had been set for a November 3rd theatrical release.
That’s a prime spot, which would have allowed the movie a splashy festival launch with stars such as Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Florence Pugh, Austin Butler and Rebecca Ferguson, plus plenty of time for them to hit the press rounds to promote it (as a matter of some irony, big UK publication Empire has just launched its exclusive covers showcasing the movie).
And it positions ‘Dune: Part Two’ as an awards player, hoping to replicate the success of the first part –– which scored 10 Oscar nominations and won six.
With a shift to March 15th, 2024, it’s unlikely to qualify for next year’s Oscars (that, though, remains to be seen, since, like TV awards the Emmys, the Oscars could shift themselves if the strikes continue).
What other movies are affected?
And ‘Dune’s shift means some moving around for movies that had already claimed 2024 release slots on Warner Bros.’ calendar: ‘Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire’ had been sitting on the March 15th date but will now stomp off to April 12th.
That in turn means that animated Tolkien movie ‘The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim’ is also on the move. It will now arrive on December 13th, 2024.
Oddly, Warner Bros. is holding firm with three other movies on its schedule, all of which are set for just the month after ‘Dune’s release.
So far, musical ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘ prequel ‘Wonka’ (which also stars Chalamet), is staying on December 15th, superhero sequel ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ remains set for December 20th, while stage musical adaptation ‘The Color Purple’ will still –– for now –– come out on December 25th (that one at least has the advantage of media megastar Oprah Winfrey available to spread the word). But according to a report from Variety, it’s too early to count out delays for those movies also.
The Warner Bros. titles join a long list of films that have seen their release dates moved –– Sony is shifting the strategy for based-on-truth GameStop stock comedy drama ‘Dumb Money’, going from a single wide release to a platform that ramps up starting in Los Aneles and New York on September 15th, while the likes of ‘Kraven the Hunter’ and animated sequel ‘Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse’ are also moving (though the latter is likely due more to its creators finessing the story and animation rather than strike concerns).