A reboot of Dune, Frank Herbert's epic sci-fi novel series about galactic monarchies and spice mining, has been something Hollywood's working towards for a while now. Paramount tried to get a movie off the ground in the late-2000s with Peter Berg but balked at the risky budget. Not much happened for years after until late 2016, when Legendary brought up the movie and TV rights for the franchise.
Even before that deal, Arrival filmmaker Denis Villeneuve had stated he wanted to direct an adaptation of the Dune novel, with his only reservation being that he didn't expect to ever be in a position to actually do it. The Legendary move changed things and not long after the ink was dry, there were reports that Villeneuve was in talks to take on the project.
After a month of quiet, now it's confirmed: Brian Herbert, son of original Dune novel writer Frank, has tweeted out that Villeneuve has officially signed on to direct a new Dune project:
It's official -- Legendary Pictures has signed the very talented Denis Villeneuve to direct the exciting new DUNE series film project.
— Brian Herbert (@DuneAuthor) February 1, 2017
In the past few years, Villeneuve has marked him out as one of the finest working directors, with a run of films that suggest he's perfectly suited for the Dune property. His filmography is defined by taking popular genres and creating engaging, thoughtful riffs on them - kidnap thrillers with Prisoners, doppelgangers with Enemy, drug wars with Sicario - and Dune's space-epic offers plenty of similar opportunities. Most importantly, though, the director is clearly a fan - his desire to make the film was raised before it was even a possibility - which means he'll no doubt give it his all.
The Canadian filmmaker's currently working on belated sequel Blade Runner 2049, due in October. Between that, Dune and Arrival he appears to be making a concerted turn into sci-fi, which, given the serious awards attention paid to his Amy Adams-starring linguistic close encounter, is hardly a bad move.
Of course, this won't be the first time Dune's come to the big screen; the books was previously adapted by David Lynch in 1984. That film bombed at the box office (likely why a new version has been so hard to float), but has since developed a strong cult following (not unlike Blade Runner). Villeneuve has a similar esoteric nature to Lynch that fits the material, although it's fair to expect a very different type of movie this time.
Additional to the director confirmation, it's interesting (if hardly surprising) that Herbert describes the project as the "DUNE series", indicating Legendary have big franchise hopes. Whether Villeneuve has signed on for a single film or has sequel options is unknown at this time, but it looks like the desert planet Arrakis will be a big part of his career.
Source: Brian Herbert
- Blade Runner 2049 (2017) release date: Oct 06, 2017