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Dune delayed until 2021

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Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi blockbuster gets a new release date as theaters struggle to reopen

timothee chalamet’s hand picks up some dune sand Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

He who controls the spice controls the universe. Unfortunately, control doesn’t mean squat if the universe is dealing with a pandemic.

As the movie industry navigates a landscape in which theaters struggle to stay open, and the spread of COVID-19 continues to be an issue, major tentpoles continue to shift release dates. The latest seismic move comes from Warner Bros. Pictures. The studio’s new film Dune, a sci-fi epic starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and Oscar Isaac, was previously scheduled for Dec. 18, 2020. The movie will now hit theaters Oct. 1, 2021, a nearly 10-month delay. Collider was first to report the news.

Unlike a reboot of Star Wars or the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Dune is a hard sell for moviegoers — even before coronavirus conditions. Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel is a dense text full of interpretable themes, and the first trailer for Dune left most of the weirder elements out of the picture, in favor of more Star Warsian action. But the rise of Paul Atreides as a galactic hero, the Game of Thrones-like fall of House Atreides, and Herbert’s more metaphysical touches make it anything but the Skywalker Saga. If anything, George Lucas stole the Sarlacc from Dune!

Along with Chalamet, Zendaya, and Isaac, the Dune cast includes Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Josh Brolin (Sicario), Stellan Skarsgård (HBO’s Chernobyl), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Lady Bird), Chang Chen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), David Dastmalchian (Ant-Man), Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Netflix’s Sex Education), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men).

For more on the mythology of Dune, check out our guide.