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The desert planet of Arrakis crashed into the Italian water city Friday and made an enormous splash as Denis Villeneuve’s wildly anticipated sci-fi epic Dune received its very first press screenings at the Venice International Film Festival.
Despite all reviews being embargoed until the film’s world premiere on Friday night — where stars Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson and Javier Bardem are all set to walk the red carpet — many of those lucky enough to score a seat for the film’s 8:15 a.m. debut press screening could be found raving up and down the Lido throughout the morning. Meanwhile, any tidbits of information about the movie to leak from the screening online were being lapped up on social media among fans desperate to know whether the film had lived up to its epic expectations.
“Sometimes you just know when you’ve seen an all-time great,” tweeted film writer Awais Irfan. “And #Dune is, to me, an all-time great. Denis Villeneuve’s masterpiece is a sweeping symphony of spectacle, sound, and storytelling. A cinematic odyssey that is every bit as visceral as it is epic.”
“Jaw-dropping gorgeous to watch, rousing to experience,” tweeted writer Lorenzo Ciorcalo. “It pumps and pumps and pumps that spice in your veins. Ferguson is commanding, intense as usual. Chalamet gives his best in such a subdued action role. Geometric elegance in chaos.”
Meanwhile, Marvin Wiechart of Germany’s Yorck Kinogruppe cinema chain said the film was “out-of-this-world in every sense of the word and a theatrical experience unlike any other.” He added that watching the film in Venice felt like it was “like witnessing history, this is one of the few films that are bound to shape the decade in cinema.”
Festivalgoers gathering outside Venice’s Sala Grande cinema as the first screening was underway reported hearing the film’s booming Hans Zimmer score reverberating through the theater’s walls. Moments later, Chalamet created a genuine frenzy outside the Lido’s Casino building when he emerged from the first Dune press conference to a sea of adoring, screaming Chala-maniacs. The young star played to the crowd, smiling and waving, with each gesture eliciting a roar, before he stepped aboard a waiting vaporetto and was whisked away down a canal.
The pitch of the early buzz will be welcome news to co-producers Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros., given that the hugely ambitious sci-fi project reportedly clocked in with a production budget of $165 million — money that will need to be recouped before the Ornithopter blades get whirring on the possible second installment of the two-part, tentpole adaptation — something Chalamet said would be a “dream” to make in the press conference. But if the early energy on the Lido is anything to go by, Dune appears to be blasting off with a roar.
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