We've known for a while now that acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve – best-known for his work on Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 – would make a Dune movie. But now it sounds like that film is actually two films, with the potential for even more.
Speaking at the Rendez-Vous du Cinema Quebecoi this week, Villeneuve announced that his adaptation of Frank Herbert's 1965 science-fiction novel will "probably take two years to make" and the goal is to "make two films, maybe more."
Villeneuve won't be the first director to tackle Herbert's source material; David Lynch famously helmed his own Dune in 1984, which starred Kyle MacLachlan. That film was an unmitigated disaster that Lynch has more or less disowned. Part of its problem was cramming Herbert's massive story into a single 2-hour film, so Villeneuve is already off to a better start. And, as The Playlist notes in their report from the festival, the novel features a significant time-jump about midway through that could service as an easy divide between the first two films.
All of this would make us nervous if it weren't for Villeneuve's solid sci-fi track record. Arrival was largely critically acclaimed, earning Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and Blade Runner 2049 – while slightly more polarizing and a financial disappointment – found a dedicated fan base and is destined for cult classic status, like the original. Villeneuve has a lovely cinematic language, and imbues his sci-fi with deep layers of humanity. That's just what something like Dune – which tells the complicated story of a feudal interstellar society in the near future – needs.
And what about that possibility for more than two films? Assuming the first two are hits, that sounds about right. Herbert wrote six Dune novels, several tie-in short stories, and, after his death, his son Brian and sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson concluded the series and wrote a number of prequels. The Dune sandbox is wide open for meddling, and Villeneuve sounds like the perfect guy to get creative with Herbert's opus.
Nothing else is known about Dune at this time, but rest assured that we will be following this one closely.
Image: Gage Skidmore/Universal
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