Warner Bros. can it achieve a marketing miracle for cinema?

It’s no secret that I wasn’t quite captivated by what I saw at the Dune IMAX event earlier this week, but that’s just the opinion of one reviewer, one reviewer who liked Arrival and Sicario more … than Prisoners and Blade Runner 2049 Not less. But my biggest concern, as a box office expert or whatever I am these days, is how oddly non-commercial the film looks. Of course, commercial doesn’t always mean “good” than “non-commercial”, but when you spend $ 160 million on the first half of a story, the second half is only suitable if the first is successful, yes, whether it seems that a likely hit is indeed a problem.

It’s one thing to do the whole “split the book into two movies” gimmick when you already have a fan base. Heck, cultural critics can criticize, but Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part II all either overwhelmed or found themselves relatively close to their respective payments of the “first part”. They were also selling the slam-bang finale of a long cinematic history that was already incredibly popular and profitable. same it chapter one cost $ 37 million, ran a deadly marketing campaign, enjoyed multigenerational nostalgia, and looked like a horror movie event, even to those indifferent to the source material.

It also told a 99% standalone story and completed all of the source material for those two films. A first part must not only do enough to justify a Dune part two But Dune part two (assuming we get such a thing) must have sufficient commercial success to warrant further sequels and / or spinoffs from HBO Max. I’m still waiting for that Dark Tower television program and / or the fourth “TV film” part of The Divergent Series. As ambitious and “epic” as it sounds in terms of scope and scale, to quote the latest “new to movies” mega-bucks franchise (a YA adaptation with a simple hook and a marquee character), the odds won’t. are not met. Dune‘s favor.

As stated yesterday, we were here four years ago, with a Denis Villeneuve Blade runner 2049. Ridley scottBlade runner bombed in 1982 and eventually became one of the most influential sci-fi movies of the 1980s. A cult classic to be sure, but more revered by the geeks we film than the general public and not passed down from parent to child. Alcon Entertainment, Columbia Pictures and friends have passed Tron legacy-level money on a much less audience-friendly sequel, three decades later, to a 1982 box office bombshell and focused the entire ad campaign on the mere idea that it was ‘another Blade runner movie. $ 93 million nationally and $ 251 million globally would have been good enough for a 2.5-hour, R-rated sci-fi symphonic poem that didn’t cost $ 160 million.

This second trailer focuses primarily on Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides as a potentially downtrodden duke’s son, from last year’s character-focused teaser (and this week’s character posters). I would expect the third trailer (which would likely release either in tandem with the film’s debut at the Venice Film Festival, or at the end of September with No time to die) to focus more on the movie Avatar-like sensitivities when the young heir realizes that his side is the oppressor, falls in love with one of the oppressed (Zendaya) and changes sides. While this is a goddamn primitive story, it’s also a story that’s been told over and over again, and the second trailer does everything it can to make it more complicated.

The good news is that Dune has a huge ensemble cast, including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa (the only one who seems to be having fun), Dave Bautista and many more). He has a PG-13, probably more action than Blade Runner 2049 and potentially someone looking like a big-name director at least in the film’s Twitter bubble. The five key ingredients of a nostalgia-free hit seem to be good reviews (fingers crossed), a star set, a high-end hook (which is missing), a marquee director (this is questionable) and the promise of ‘escape (will be Dune be funny?). Right now, it contains two of those elements in the hopes that it won’t be a dark passion game.

Again, one should not focus on “Finally, a Dune film! “or even” cinematographic wonders beyond what you can imagine “, because the novel by Frank Hubert is at best a cult property and because the public is no longer seduced by the single show. Jupiter Ascendant, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and Deadly Engines would have been real blockbusters. Alita: the angel of battle nearly succeeded ($ 405 million on a budget of $ 170 million) by focusing on the Robert Rodriguez / James Cameron combo and the gee-whiz appeal of Rosa Salazar’s main character. Will the “white prince in conflict” played by a ridiculously handsome Chalamet be close to the draw of Jen Lawrence’s Katniss or Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter?

As pessimistic as I am about the commercial success of the film, I hope it is at least a good film. I hope this is at least one movie that Warner Bros. can at least refer to it as “You see, we do more than Harry Potter and Batman movies”, even if the public ignores it for Jackass forever and Film Twitter retroactively blames marketing. Warner Bros. is used to marketing relatively unconventional films on a large scale (Gravity, Mad Max: Fury Road and Start) and small (Magic Mike, American sniper and It) into films of related events. In the heights was a rare failure in this sense, but if a studio can sell Dune for the masses, it’s the Dream Factory.

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