In the history of science fiction literature, few novel series have reached the upper echelon of belovedness quite the way Frank Herbert’s Dune has. The incredibly dense, richly populated space opera is considered by many to be the best science fiction novel ever written, winning all kinds of awards upon its release in 1965. There has to date been a single feature film of the work–David Lynch’s head-scratching, though undeniably visually arresting, 1984 effort–but save a Syfy miniseries in the early-2000s, Dune has remained nigh-unfilmable…until now! Deadline is reporting that Legendary Pictures has reached an agreement with the Herbert estate for the film and TV rights to the classic novel.
Details are scant at the moment, but Legendary Pictures will be turning the novel series into a film franchise, with the hopes of it becoming a full-on saga like Star Wars or Star Trek. The agreement calls for the development and production of possible film and television projects for a global audience.
The novel tells the story of Paul Atreides, whose family accepts control of the planet Arrakis, a desert world which is the sole producer of an incredibly valuable spice. Hence, the world is heavily contested by all the galaxy’s ruling families. After his family is betrayed, Paul goes on a journey of religion, politics, and communing with nature as he realizes his true potential and leads a rebellion to retake control of the world.
Dune has been the holy grail of science fiction film projects. Lynch’s disowned film version was the aftermath of a lengthy pre-production process for an ultimately aborted film by surrealist filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky. That would have been a four-hour affair, with concept art by people like French comic artist Moebius and Alien screenwriter Dan O’Bannon, and starring disparate people like Salvador Dali and Orson Welles. The saga of that woulda-been film is brilliantly depicted in the documentary, Jodorowsky’s Dune.
With movies coming out that look as visually interesting as Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and with a plot that seems like an intergalactic Game of Thrones, Dune has the potential to be a true sci-fi opus, and in multiple media, considering the film and television contract. Maybe a Marvel-like cinematic universe? Time will tell.
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Image: Dino De Laurentiis Corporation/Universal
Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. Follow him on Twitter!