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Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao summed up the general impression of Denis Villeneuve’s wildly anticipated sci-fi epic Dune at its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival Friday night. As a cascade of bravos rained down on Venice’s Sala Grande cinema, Zhao, who is a member of the festival’s competition jury this year, rushed through the aisles to greet the Dune director with a big hug shouting, “fantastic!” The crowd’s standing ovation, meanwhile, roared on for a continuous eight minutes.
After a much-buzzed-about pair of press screenings in the morning, and a full-scale Timothée Chalamet frenzy on the Lido in the afternoon, Dune‘s big unveiling finally arrived shortly before 7 p.m., as Villeneuve and his talent-packed cast stepped out on the red carpet as the Venetian sun was dipping over the horizon. Chalamet undoubtedly drew the most screams from the huge crowd of Gen Z Italians surrounding the cinema, but the full cast impressed with its sheer show of star power.
On hand and walking the carpet arm-in-arm with Villeneuve and Chalamet were co-stars Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgård and Chen Chang.
Those in Venice lucky enough to score one of the exceedingly scarce tickets to the screening were treated to an uncommonly spacious and comfortable premiere experience since the Sala Grande’s usual seating capacity of 1,200 had been reduced by half as a COVID precaution. Masked up and bedecked in black tie, the crowd inside settled in for the two-hour and 35-minute immersive experience of Villeneuve’s interpretation of the 1965 Frank Herbert sci-fi classic.
Produced by Legendary Entertainment and Warner Brothers and billed as Part 1 of a planned two-chapter franchise starter, Dune rolls out in cinemas in Europe starting Sept. 15 and in the U.S. in theaters and on HBO Max on Oct. 22.
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