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HBO Max moved up the release of ‘Dune’ to Thursday. Here’s when you can stream it

Timothée Chalamet in "Dune."Warner Bros. Pictures via AP

The wait for “Dune” is almost over.

The long-anticipated sci-fi epic lands in US theaters and HBO Max on Thursday, with in-person showtimes across the city. HBO Max will release a “special preview” of the film to begin streaming at 6 p.m., according to a tweet from the streaming giant. It will be accessible only to HBO Max’s ad-free tier subscribers — and really, who would want to see ads during “Dune”? The film will stream for 31 days after its theatrical release.

Zendaya in a scene from "Dune."Warner Bros. Pictures via AP

The film, directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring an A-list cast that includes Zendaya, Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, and Rebecca Ferguson, has already brought in $129 million internationally, according to the Associated Press.

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The movie’s release date was pushed back by about a year, so it’s fair to say some fans are quite eager to see it (just check out Twitter).

Based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, the film follows young Paul Atreides (Chalamet) and other members of House Atreides as they fight to mine a life-extending spice from the planet Arrakis. Zendaya’s character, Chani, is a native of the planet and, of course, Paul’s love interest. Oh, and there are colossal, terrifying sandworms.

Villeneuve has said that the big-screen treatment is necessary to enjoy “Dune” in all of its extraterrestrial splendor; in fact, he publicly slammed Warner Bros. last year when the studio announced plans to release its slate of 2021 films in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously.

“Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of ‘Dune’s’ scope and scale,” he wrote in an article for Variety. “Warner Bros.’ decision means ‘Dune’ won’t have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph. Warner Bros. might just have killed the ‘Dune’ franchise.”

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Part of Villeneuve’s concern, surely, is whether he’ll be able to make his “Dune” sequel, which has yet to officially be given the go-ahead. The new movie, with its $165 million budget, covers just the first half of the novel’s sprawling arc, but Variety reported that the dual release on HBO Max improves the chances a sequel will come to fruition, since the profits won’t depend solely on uncertain box office traffic.

Even with the HBO Max release, true “Dune” aficionados seem to be waiting to see it on the big screen.


Dana Gerber can be reached at dana.gerber@globe.com