Dune is Rated PG-13

This is official. Dune is now rated as PG-13. Most of the studio insiders were saying this for a long time, although I assumed it was going to be R-rated. It has been rated PG-13 for “sequences of strong violence, some disturbing images and suggestive material”.

Imminent Release Date?

Does this mean that Dune might release earlier than expected as predicted? Not necessarily. Dune was suppose to be come out originally on the 18th December 2020. Perhaps it is simply due to the timing that the film was rated now. However, this is by no means a confirmation of an earlier release date.

Personal Opinion

I will be moderately happy if the movie is good. Since Denis Villeneuve is a great director, one can expect a masterpiece. Sure, I am bummed out that it did not have a mature-rating, but perhaps there might be a director’s or extended cut. It would indeed promote HBO Max.

Dune is also a heavy material with various themes such as ecology, messianism, philosophy, culture, society, religion etc. It is designed for adults. Dune is not designed as a form of escapism or as a fast-paced popcorn-eating type of read/movie. As Denis Villeneuve has pushed boundaries into the R-rating for his previous films, I am ashamed he did not do it for Dune. Especially after he said his films he made previously were all a preparation to one day make a Dune film. And most of those were R-Rated.

The film script definitely felt adult too.

Anyhow, I hope the future adaptations are not water-downed, especially if Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse of Dune are adapted. The last third of the book apparently has mature elements, or so I’ve been told, so hopefully the immediate sequel will be R-Rated. I haven’t read it in a while, so I can’t say for sure. Maybe this was why the test screening ended after the fight with Jamis: To save the heavier content for the second movie. And I sincerely hope that they are.

Furthermore in the script, a certain character gets beheaded and the blood splatter lands on the nearby servants who are too afraid to move. This looks pretty graphic. However, in the test screening, this was changed to a simple slice to the throat. This and combined with the fact that the test screening ends before the spice orgy and the final lovemaking sequence, it gives me the feeling that it was initially shot with an R-Rating intention, but it might have changed over the course of the reshoots. Did they change their mind over the course of the filming, or was it something else?

One reason I was promoting Dune was because I thought it’ll be R-Rated, so it needed all the help it can get. But this rating has discouraging me to do so. The fact that it’s premiering on HBO Max makes this official rating even more redundant.

Financial Advantage

Financially speaking, I don’t think a PG-13 will offer in any particular advantage, because:

  • Most of the people will now use HBO Max to see Dune for the first time. People don’t really care about age rating when they’re streaming, especially since Dune was never a family-orientated material in the first place.
  • Internationally, chances are there would be no difference between abroad between rating. In the U.K, hard PG-13 and soft R-Rated films are typically certified as a ‘15’ movie.
  • Blumhouse previously decided to reboot R-Rated movies in a PG-13 format for a modern audience. They both utterly flopped because it was simply not made for a younger audience.
  • The themes of Dune are quite adult. It’s not a typical Star Wars or Marvel film where it’s a fast-paced popcorn-eating experience. Dune would be a slow type of film. These are not something which most teenagers want to watch.
  • The idea of the premiering in the theatres at the same time is mainly symbolic. There is a chance that the big cinema chains will boycott Warner Bros because they got rid of the theatrical window.
  • Even in a post-pandemic world, parents would probably be reluctant to allow their children to return to cinemas.
  • In 2019, 7 of the 10 major flops were all PG-13 films. This alone shows that this rating alone does not negate success.
  • It will probably take a while for the cinemas to actually recover. Analytics predict that cinemas would not reach pre-COVID levels in a long time. By the time they’re fully ready, a large amount of people would have switched to streaming, i.e. HBO Max.

It is annoying, but I am hoping for the best!


For more Dune news, I recommend you check out the “2021s Dune — The Story and Everything You Need To Know”.


This following statement discloses the presence of affiliated links in accordance with the Medium guidelines.


(09/12/2020, 12:51 GMT) — Updated the article twice since posting to add additional information to the “Personal Opinion” section.
(08/01/2021, 22:04 GMT) — I came to update the affiliate links and I realised I forgot to submit the “Financial Advantage” heading from my previous edit. This has now been added.



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Arnold Khan

Arnold Khan

Writer. Reader of Novels. Video Gamer. Documentary Watcher. Tech nerd.