Warning: the following contains spoilers for the first Dune film.
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, having debuted early and brutally on HBO Max this week accompanying its cinematic run, is hardly the first adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel. Following a failed attempt in 1973, filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted an adaptation, which resulted in a phonebook-sized script, a projected 14-hour duration, and, eventually, another launch disaster. It was then handed over to Ridley Scott. Then it went to David Lynch, who reworked it in an uninteresting way in 1984.
Scott reportedly dropped out of the project because the plot was too big for a single picture. Lynch’s attempt at a single film would be doomed as a result of this revelation. Before Villeneuve’s attempt, the last competent adaptation was a three-part miniseries released in 2000. The message is clear: if you want to modify Dune, you’ll need a bigger boat.
Villeneuve has long stated that his current Dune adaptation is merely the first step of a broader project. Initially, the filmmaker intended to capture the full story in one take, then edit it into two parts after filming. In an interview with Variety, he explained his motivation: “At first, I intended to complete the two sections simultaneously.” It didn’t happen for a variety of reasons, so I accepted the challenge of making part one and then waiting to see if the film generates enough passion.”
“I laid the base, the basics of the world – it’s done now. I don’t have to explain most of the world. So now I can just have fun at the cinema. [laughs] That’s what I will say, is that I think if ever such a thing happens as a Part 2, it’s going to be a cinematic party. I mean, it’s not the right word. I apologize. I will say it is going to be a cinematic blast for me. I think that I could create something much more built into cinematic action and less talking”
Rather than shooting twice as much footage, Villeneuve had to make one film and then wait for approval for the next.
Villeneuve is presently awaiting Warner Bros.’ official permission. He claims, though, that he is ready to leave. “If ever there’s enthusiasm and the movie is greenlit sooner than later, I will say that I will be ready to shoot in 2022, for sure. 2022, for sure. I would love to, because I am ready to go, and I will say that I would love to bring it to the screen as soon as possible.”
The series isn’t expected until 2022 or later.