Legendary's CEO says the plan is to make at least one sequel to Denis Villeneuve's Dune movie reboot. One of the touchstone sci-fi novels of the 20th century, Frank Herbert's first Dune book was published in 1965 and has since given rise to multiple sequels and prequels that flesh out the property's mythology. The original novel takes place in the future on the desert planet Arrakis, where a pair of royal families (Houses Atreides and Harkonnen) battle one another for control of the planet and its valuable resource melange (aka. spice).
As far as adaptations go, Dune is known for being notoriously difficult to translate into other mediums. David Lynch's 1984 Dune movie was a critical and commercial bomb, while John Harrison's 2000 Dune miniseries earned high viewership, but was limited by its budget and content restrictions. Cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky infamously tried and failed to get a Dune film made during the '70s (as chronicled in the 2013 documentary Jodorowsky's Dune), as did Paramount when it announced plans to make a Dune movie in 2008... only to abandon the project three years later.
Finally, in 2016, Legendary landed the Dune movie rights and quickly set Villeneuve (then fresh off his success with Arrival) to work on the adaptation. However, it was previously revealed that Villeneuve's film will only adapt the first half of Herbert's book, with the second half being saved for the sequel. Legendary CEO Joshua Grode reaffirmed the studio's Dune plans in a recent interview with THR, explaining that "There's a backstory that was hinted at in some of the books [that we expanded]. Also, when you read the book there's a logical place to stop the movie before the book is over".
According to its official synopsis, Villeneuve's first Dune movie - which is currently filming for a 2020 theatrical release - will follow Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), the "brilliant and gifted" son of House Atreides head Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), as he travels to Arrakis to ensure his family's future. The reboot is ever referred to as a hero's journey story in its synopsis, which aligns with Villeneuve 's description of the movie as "Star Wars for adults"; that is, a grand space epic that follows a young man as he comes of age, but with more political intrigue that Luke Skywalker's own big adventure in A New Hope.
Needless to say, Paul's greater journey (much like Luke's) will have barely begun when he sets out to Arrakis in Villeneuve's movie. It's probably for the best that the filmmaker isn't trying to cover too much at once then, especially since Herbert's original Dune novel is practically two stories in one itself (like Grode indicated). Of course, the danger is that audiences might never get to see the second half of the narrative here if the initial Dune under-performs at the box office (a la Villeneuve's sequel Blade Runner 2049). For now, though, it sounds like Legendary is pretty determined to make at least two films, save for the unlikely event that the first one is a complete flop.
- Dune (2020) release date: Dec 18, 2020