Denis Villeneuve, the director of Arrival and this year's Blade Runner 2049, has signed on to direct the new Dune movie for Legendary Pictures.
The news hasn't been officially confirmed through Villenueve or his representatives, but Brian Herbert, son of the late Frank Herbert and a member of the rights-owning estate, confirmed the news via Twitter.
Legendary purchased both TV and film rights to the Dune novels after Paramount let them lapse last year. It sounds like the plan is to lead with a film or multi-film adaptation of at least Dune and perhaps its immediate sequels (Dune Messiah and Children of Dune), and use a TV show to flesh out the larger universe, which includes four later books by Frank Herbert set thousands of years after the events of the original trilogy, and a lengthy series of prequels and side-novels written by Brian Herbert with Kevin J. Anderson. These later novels have been critically slated and many Dune fans do not regard them as canon.
Dune was previously adapted as a movie in 1984 by David Lynch, which was praised for its art design, excellent casting, music and general atmosphere, but criticised for its confusing storyline. There was also a SyFy mini-series in 2000 which was better-received for its clearer storytelling but suffered from poor production values (including, ludicrously, having to film the desert scenes on a soundstage). There was a sequel mini-series in 2003 which adapted Dune Messiah and Children of Dune.
Villeneuve is an excellent director, but I must admit that film is not a natural home for Dune, which is far too big a novel to be adapted by itself, let alone its five sequels. I'd much rather have seen a big-budget HBO series. However, it may be possible to adapt Dune more effectively as two films shot back-to-back, and I hope this is the path Legendary takes.
I suspect we won't see the film until late 2019 or early 2020 at the earliest.