Dune: Part 2 Proves Movie Budgets Have Gone Out of Control


Dune The fever is sweeping the nation. between a impressive opening weekend and stellar reviews (not to mention one particularly enthusiastic fan becoming Lisan al Gaib riding a homemade sandworm through a theater lobby), director Denis Villeneuve’s version of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic appears to be exactly what the public needed after exhausting themselves with half-made franchise films. But in addition to showing that studios should once again trust filmmakers with genuine vision when it comes to tackling their biggest properties, the success of Dune 2 also calls into question the methods that have become so common in modern blockbuster production. . Specifically, why do many of these movies cost so much more but look so much worse than Dune?

Few would argue that Dune’s visuals aren’t a notable technical achievement. The first film even won Oscars for its visual effects, cinematography, and production design. Villeneuve’s take on Arrakis and the broader Dune universe is as massive in scope as is possible with the technology available. Although it is it’s not the first time Since Herbert’s novel has been adapted for the big screen, this new Dune is one of the only recent blockbusters this side of James Cameron’s Avatar franchise that appears to have been designed from the ground up to completely transport the audience to a world they have not known. seen before. The scale of the images and the artistic commitment to making a film where it feels essential to experience it in theaters has led audiences to fill IMAX screenings in 3:15 in the morning.

Why do many of these movies cost so much more but look so much worse than Dune?

Dune: Part 1 was released in 2021 with a $165 million price, which is actually low final when it comes to comparable films from that year. Most Marvel features, including 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, Black Widow, Eternals, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, cost at least $200 million seemingly by default. Other big franchise films that year, such as F9 and No Time to Die, also hovered around $200-$300 million. We’re not saying that any of these movies are necessarily bad because of the amount of money that was spent on them, but when you look at most of them compared to Dune, it’s not hard to feel that it doesn’t feel like all the money was spent. up on the screen.

Dune: Part 2 costs a little more and reaches $190 million. The budget increase between films appears to be largely COVID-related, at least according to Mary Parent, producer of both films. When she was asked in an interview with The Wrap On how the problems caused by the pandemic affected the production of the sequel, he had this to say: “Just the cost of the products in general and the amount of time to get them was certainly longer… you’re right, it was definitely something that ( sic) we had to fight big time.” Principal photography on Part 1 took place in mid-2019, before the pandemic, so it looks like the budget for Part 2, even with a fuller cast that includes stars new to the franchise like Florence Pugh, Austin Butler , Christopher Walken and Anya Taylor-Joy, I’d probably be even closer to the first film if COVID wasn’t a factor.

However, even with his production concerns, Villeneuve was able to deliver a maximalist blockbuster experience at a more frugal cost than most of his contemporaries. As an example of another film currently in theaters along with Dune, Matthew Vaughn’s latest spy action film, Argylle, cost $200 millionbut it doesn’t look exactly… excellent. That film also has a packed cast and a renowned director, but its aesthetics have not made a good impression. Watching these two films side by side, we have to ask serious questions about why they cost so much, especially since Argylle is definitely not making its money back in theaters (it has a worldwide gross of $92.5 million as of this moment). writing). What was the thinking behind allocating that kind of budget to this kind of film? Certainly, a silly spy adventure starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell could have been made for a fraction of the cost it takes to produce a two-and-a-half-hour space opera that takes place on a different planet.

Now, not all filmmakers are Denis Villeneuve, it’s true, but even with that caveat, it’s increasingly difficult not to get the feeling that blockbuster productions are spending money they shouldn’t be spending. Marvel Cinematic Universe VFX Issues Involving Crucial, soul-crushing moment and Poor administration have led not only to unionization efforts but broader conversations about how many blockbusters have given too much weight to the “fix it in post” line of thinking. Fickle producers and directors who don’t have as much experience in visual effects as they should have been struggling to figure out exactly what they want these films to be during principal photography, often leading to massive reshoots and/or constant changes to aspects of their films in the editing room until the last minute. This exacerbates costs and doesn’t leave enough time for images to cook because they are remade so frequently.

Consider The Flash’s hysterically poor (and seemingly unfinished) visual effects work in a $220 million budget, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania looks like a collection of AI-generated wallpapers despite the cost $193 million before post-production or marketing expenses, or Indiana Jones and Dial of Destiny with murky photography and mediocre visuals on a $295 million price tag. All of these movies cost substantially more than any of the Dune installments, but they look much worse, and since none of them have even come close to breaking even, this situation of spending too much on features only to end up with subpar visuals is simply unsustainable. Frankly, the resources and production capacity that goes into these films are being wasted, and that’s not exactly a comment on their quality (although it’s not). No one neither.)

Denis Villeneuve delivering the spectacle of Dune on a reasonable budget should be a wake-up call for filmmakers and studios around the world. There is no longer an excuse for poorly made films that cost obscene amounts, especially when what has been drawing audiences to theaters in recent years has been increasingly films that dollar this trend. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, trusting filmmakers who really know what they want and have the space to approach their projects without fear of compromising their artistic vision often leads to not only better and better results.looking films, but also films that have a greater chance of making profits in theaters. As Dune: Part 2 continues to sweep the box office, it’s a lesson Hollywood can no longer afford not to learn.

Carlos Morales writes Mass Effect novels, articles, and essays. You can follow his postings at Twitter.

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