Paramount invested over four years' time in their attempt to launch a new cinematic adaptation of Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi novel, Dune, but the studio has officially lost the rights to the project.
Paramount is still striving to bring Max Book's best-seller World War Z to the big screen, though, and is searching for assistance in financing the expensive zombpocalypse tale.
Taken director Pierre Morel was brought onboard last year to helm Dune after Peter Berg left the project to make Battleship instead (for an idea of what Berg had in mind, check out this Dune conceptual artwork).
According to Deadline, Dune rights holder Richard P. Rubinstein has admitted to being impressed with how Morel and screenwriter Chase Palmer reshaped Herbert's sprawling source material into a feature-length script. What ultimately killed the project was Paramount's weariness about committing to the $100+ million budget that the project required, says Rubinstein.
Dune was adapted for the big screen back in 1984 by David Lynch, who delivered a rather surreal and arduous sci-fi film that was a massive flop at the box office, but has since attained a cult status of sorts. A primetime Emmy Award-winning TV adaptation of Dune aired on Syfy (then, The Sci-Fi Channel) back in 2000 and was overall a very loyal adaptation of Herbet's novel... that had a running time of just under five hours.
Given the popularity of the Dune series, it's likely that another studio will soon be pursuing the screen rights for a movie adaptation. That project will almost undoubtedly have to deviate significantly from Herbert's original novel in order to keep costs down and not be a chore to watch - but sometimes not catering to fans is the best way to go.
World War Z
An adaptation of World War Z is still in the books for Paramount, but Vulture says that the studio may soon pull the plug on the $125 million project if additional financial support is not attained in the near future. Brad Pitt remains attached to star in the film, which would be directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace).
Forster is reportedly planning on delivering a World War Z movie that is Rated PG-13, which could prove to be kind of a double-edged sword for the film. On the one hand, that assurance may ease studio heads' concerns about the intimidating budget and discourage Paramount from following in the steps of Universal - whose recent decision to terminate Guillermo del Toro's At the Mountains of Madness is thought to have been influenced by the expensive project being set for an R-Rating.
On the other hand, there are a handful of other in-development zombie related movies (including Zombies Vs. Robots and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) that promise to deliver lots of gory, zombie-killing bang for moviegoers' buck - and are less expensive than World War Z. The question for now is whether Paramount will try to whittle down the budget on their adaptation, or just stick the project on the backburner if they cannot convince another studio to help with funding.
We'll keep you posted on the status of both a new Dune and World War Z adaptation in the future.