Watching This Week #112
Listings for May 29 to June 4, 2023; Corus channels appear set to leave Eastlink.
We'll explain when and where the sci-fi epic directed by Denis Villeneuve may be available to watch at home in Canada.
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Dune: Part One, the first part of a planned two-part adaptation of the novel by Frank Herbert, featuring an ensemble cast including Timothée Chalamet, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, and Jason Momoa, and directed by acclaimed Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, was released by Warner Bros. Pictures in North American theatres on Friday, October 22, 2021.
In Canada, the film was initially available only in theatres. Although the film also had a limited-time streaming release on HBO Max in the United States starting on October 22, this did not apply in Canada.
However, on March 18, 2022, Dune became available to stream on Bell Media's Crave subscription streaming service.
Before this, in early December, Canadians became able to watch Dune at home via premium digital rental (initially for $24.99 for 48 hours) or purchase (for around $29.99) through the following retailers. As of early April 2022, only the digital purchase option remains available, at a slightly reduced price of $24.99 (prices are before sales taxes, and may vary slightly by retailer; rentals may become available again at a later date):
Note that the Denis Villeneuve film should not be confused with the 1984 David Lynch film, which is is also available on Crave as of this writing.
In the U.S., Dune was part of Warner Bros.' "Same Day Premieres" distribution model for late 2020 and 2021 releases which began with Wonder Woman 1984, and continued with films like Godzilla vs. Kong and In the Heights, in which WB theatrical films have had a day-and-date release on sibling streaming service HBO Max, and are then made available for streaming for no extra charge to subscribers on that service for 31 days after release. This window ended on November 22.
However, this streaming release did not apply in Canada, where HBO Max is not available. Even in other parts of the world where HBO Max has launched more recently like Latin America, to our knowledge Warner Bros. did not extend that sort of offer.
We have discussed this situation further in the past, like in our post about Wonder Woman 1984, but in short, because HBO Max is part of the same corporate group as Warner Bros., parent company WarnerMedia can move these films around more easily in the U.S., and doing so has helped with the company's long-term goal of growing HBO Max.
But HBO Max is not available in Canada, where key programming rights have been sold to domestic services, mainly to Bell Media's Crave – and WarnerMedia does not have the same kind of direct financial incentive to growing Crave's subscription base.
That said, Dune should be covered by a "pay-1" output deal that sends Warner Bros.' first-run films to Crave several months after they begin playing in theatres. Pre-pandemic, WB films were typically made available to Crave about 8-10 months after theatrical release. But given that this schedule has moved up for a number of films starting with WW84 (which arrived on Crave in late May, about five months after release) and has continued for subsequent Warner Bros. films, there was a strong possibility of similar streaming release timing for this film, which would imply streaming availability on Crave in late March 2022.
Indeed, in February, Crave announced on Twitter that it would carry the film starting in March, without specifying the exact date it would be available. Ultimately, Dune became available on Crave on Friday, March 18.
Since late October 2021, Crave has been available in two plans that both include access to the same library of content, including movies: a single-device "mobile" plan that costs $9.99 per month, or $99.99 per year when billed annually; and a multi-screen "total" plan that costs $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year. (All prices are before applicable sales taxes.)
Typically, at some point a little over a year after its initial release on Crave, the streaming rights to Warner Bros. films have moved to rival service Netflix. Assuming this still holds, this move will likely happen sometime in mid-2023.
For most Warner Bros. films released in late 2020 and early 2021 while many Canadian theatres were closed, the studio decided to release them in Canada simultaneously in the theatres that were open, and as premium video-on-demand (PVOD) rentals on various platforms. However, this practice was abandoned in August, after cinemas across Canada, including major markets like Toronto, had all been allowed to reopen.
Instead, for Warner Bros. films starting with The Suicide Squad, the studio has maintained theatrical exclusivity for less than two months – a much shorter timeframe than was typical prior to the pandemic. For example, Malignant was released in theatres on September 10, but will became available for digital purchase on October 22, just six weeks later, albeit at the premium price point of $29.99.
Evidently, as discussed above, this practice will continue for other Warner Bros. films for the time being.
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