Why the ‘Dune’ movie is important to the future of blockbusters and sci-fi in Hollywood

I’m just going to get this out of the way right at the start: even though I’m incredibly hyped for the upcoming “Dune” movie from director Denis Villeneuve, I’m not really all that interested in the novel it’s based on.

“Dune” by Frank Herbert is considered to be a science fiction classic, and I actually have read it. I don’t remember much about it, only that it seemed long, a little dense, and hard to follow (also, there was a LOT of spice and sandworms). Sometimes a book just isn’t for you, even if it is a classic.

But in regards to the new “Dune” movie, I’m all in. For one, the fact that it’s directed by Denis Villeneuve makes it an automatic watch for me. As far as I’m concerned, “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049” are both cinematic sci-fi masterpieces, regardless of how well they may or may not have performed at the box office.

And two, how can you not be impressed by that cast? Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Jason Momoa — and that’s just naming a few. In addition to the gorgeous, otherworldly cinematography we saw in the recently released trailer, this film seems to have all the right ingredients to be a success.

But will it actually be a box office triumph?

As we’ve seen many times in the past, internet hype does not always translate to box office success. I love sci-fi in general, so even though I’m not necessarily a fan of the “Dune” book, I feel like I’m predisposed to like this movie. I’m really curious to see how general audiences respond to it.

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a long, difficult year, and watching the “Dune” trailer made me more excited for a movie than I’ve felt in quite a while. I’m ready for a fresh sci-fi franchise to shake up the box office, and since there’s no new Star Wars films for a while, I’m hoping “Dune” can help tide me over.

I want to start looking forward to Dune’s premiere date — which is scheduled for Dec. 18 this year — but at the same time I’m hesitant to preorder my ticket. I think we’re going to be dealing with the fallout of COVID-19 well into next year, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if “Dune” joined the many other films that are being pushed to 2021.

I’m at the point where there are some new movies I’d be willing to watch through a streaming service at home — even the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Widow prequel (I’m not paying $30, though, like the live-action “Mulan” charged, so don’t get any ideas Disney+). But “Dune” isn’t one of those movies I want to see for the first time on the TV in my basement. I want to see it on the biggest screen possible, and so I’m willing to wait however long I need to.

Also, even if “Dune” does release this December, will its box office take be the same as it would have been in a non-COVID year? I’d hate for “Dune” to flop because theater numbers are lower in general, and then we don’t get anymore “Dune” movies because of that. My gut feeling is that it would be far better to save “Dune” for 2021, when everyone feels safe to return to theaters and “Dune” might be the big screen boost we all need.

“Dune” has, of course, been adapted for the screen before, with several notable false starts. I honestly wish I had more time to dig into the history of “Dune” in Hollywood, because it looks incredibly fascinating, but that’s unfortunately beyond the scope of this article.

The 1984 “Dune” film by David Lynch wasn’t that favorably reviewed and I’ve never seen it (I’ve personally heard mixed things about the movie). There’s a 2000 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, but I haven’t seen that either.

I have a feeling that Villeneuve’s “Dune” is the story’s best chance to become a big-screen blockbuster, and I hope general audiences will latch onto it too. We’ve been blessed with a number of gorgeous sci-fi epics at the cinema in recent years, but unfortunately these kinds of movies are expensive and even if they’re critically well-received, underwhelming box office numbers could stifle the trend.

So much of Hollywood’s future is up in the air right now due to COVID, and it needs some big hits like “Dune” to keep things afloat.

At least for now, we have the trailer (I won’t confess how many times I’ve watched it so far, but it’s…a lot), and I hope we’ll be treated to a bold, epic tale that will help bring science fiction to movie screens for a long, long time.

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