The latest movie version of Frank Herbert’s science-fiction epic Dune won’t be released until October 22, when it hits theaters as well as the HBO Max streaming service. Yet, on Monday Dune was trending on social media after official still images were released of the main characters.
The new posters spotlight several key characters from the film, including Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, son of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). Other notable characters include Zendaya as Chani and Javier Bardem as Stilgar, two of Dune’s native Freman; Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Josh Brolin as Gurney and Stellan Skarsgård as The Baron.
The release of the stills comes less than a week after @dunemovie released a “sneak peek” of a soon to be released IMAX trailer (@IMAX) last week. On July 21 and July 22, new footage of the upcoming film will be screened at IMAX theaters – while a different trailer will then be released online.
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IMAX Trailer To The Max
Warner Bros. pulled out all the stops to promote the film, and this effort to draw in fans to the theaters to see “preview” footage is reminiscent of WB’s strategies with second and third Christopher Nolan Batman films including The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. While that PR campaign, which was unique in that it included full sequences from the then-upcoming films was unique, this time it isn’t just WB’s PR teams that are doing the work in getting the word out to fans.
Dune has trended on social media with more than 180,000 tweets by Monday afternoon, while the IMAX events are sold out (despite being technically free).
The spice must flow, and clearly the trailer will roll.
Few sci-fi franchises – at least those that don’t include Baby Yoda – have seen such a wave of excitement on social media, but Dune isn’t just another popcorn film.
“Dune isn’t a kiddie science fiction film, this is one of the most iconic sci-fi franchises of all time, and one that hasn’t in the past had a good track record on the big screen,” said brand marketing expert Scott Steinberg. “People have been waiting for this movie for decades.”
Past efforts to create a movie version have had mixed results at best. David Lynch’s 1984 film itself was decades in the making, and while visually impressive at times; the film was long and confusing because of the plethora of characters and intertwining plots. A made-for-TV mini-series was closer to the mark, but lacked the epic qualities on the small screen in the pre-HDTV era.
Then there is the fact that story is as important to the fans as special effects.
“Dune isn’t the easiest series to tackle, as it is much richer than many other science fiction franchises, but with the success of The Lord of the Rings films and Game of Thrones on TV, it is clear that there is an audience for the richness of storytelling and character development,” said Steinberg.
“And because of that the expectations are high. This is a very rabid fan base,” he added. “There is an entire generation that hasn’t been influenced by the David Lynch version, so at this point the hype is every bit as important as the end product.”
A Brave New World
For some viewers this will be a return to Arrakis, the planet also known as “Dune,” but for many this could be a fresh start to what has the promise to be an epic new movie series. Unlike Star Wars or Star Trek there is no worry that the franchise has been oversaturated – at least not yet.
“How many times have Star Wars characters been re-visioned or Star Trek been re-imagined,” pondered Steinberg. “It is the point those series have been overhyped, so Dune is something different to get excited about and social media is where the hype is building via the fans.”
In many ways, the fans are doing the job for the PR teams.
“Absolutely. Social media is the world’s largest megaphone, and when the collective power gets behind anything the volume is intense,” said Steinberg. “After the craziness of the past year and a half, there is a fever pitch for something big and bombastic. Excitement has reached a fever pitch and the audience wants to be blown away.”