After some frustrating covid-related delays, Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi saga Dune is almost here; it launches in theatres and on HBO Max in mere hours in the U.S. (December 2 in Australia). But naturally, and no doubt to the streaming-averse director’s chagrin, online pirates have already gotten there first. Was it the lure of the beard?
As Variety reports, “at least three major illegal streaming sites are hosting HD quality streaming copies of Dune, complete with bells and whistles such as English, Danish, Spanish, and Arabic subtitles. Beyond that, thousands of users are hosting and sharing copies on torrent sites.”
The trade notes that the fact that Dune is already online (insert your own “the spice must flow” joke here) isn’t all that shocking; other recent blockbusters like Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Black Widow are also readily available — really, just about any movie you want to find online is probably there if you know where to look. It’s the fact that Dune has been leaked in HD quality with all those “bells and whistles” that makes this situation unusual.
Dune, of course, has already been released overseas — Variety reports it’s already made $172 million internationally — and there’s no telling whether the proliferation of pirated copies will have any impact on its U.S. box office take. While Villeneuve has said he’s hopeful most fans will take in the film on the big screen (read Gizmodo’s review here), he’d probably prefer anyone who wants to play it safe and watch it at home do it via HBO Max’s streaming platform and not a torrent site, even if the small-screen quality is the same.