Warner Bros.’ upcoming science-fiction epic, Dune, leaked on piracy sites days before its U.S. release. Nearly four decades after David Lynch adapted Frank Herbert’s “un-adaptable” novel, Dune, director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth attempt to bring the first half of Paul Atreides’ story to the theatres. However, Dune is one of the most anticipated movies of 2021. On top of that, its ensembled star cast features Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.
Dune had been delayed multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Villeneuve’s long-awaited adaptation recently premiered in stateside theaters and on HBO Max. Irrespective of the hybrid release strategy, Dune has already made $129 million at the international box office and is projected to make $30 million to $40 million in the U.S. and Canada throughout its opening weekend. Early reviews of the film have praised its cinematography, visuals, and utilization of IMAX. Villeneuve himself has recommended that audiences see Dune on the big screen, and not just because the film’s success determines whether he gets to adapt the rest of the book.
However, according to Variety, Dune leaked online days before its official release date. At least three major illegal streaming sites are hosting HD quality streaming copies of Dune complete with English, Danish, Spanish and Arabic subtitles. As a result, thousands of users are now streaming and sharing copies on torrent sites. Other recent blockbusters such as Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Black Widow are also readily available on torrent sites but rarely do those copies come equipped with HD and a range of subtitles this early.
Dune’s HBO Max release already complicated its box office projections, and having a high-quality copy leak online only makes matters worse. It’s one thing when paid HBO Max subscribers to watch Dune, it’s another to have everyone watching it for free with no way of tracking its popularity. Warner Bros. is doing everything in its power to flush out the source and, in turn, eliminate copies online. Although, it is likely too late for the latter. While WB representatives have declined to comment, insiders have said Dune’s piracy is within normal expectations despite the early leak.
Although, it is worth noting that every movie that is become available on HBO Max throughout Warner Bros’s duel release strategy has resulted in the internet being flooded with copies. Dune may have leaked early, but privacy is an inevitability either way.