Wednesday, 1 February 2017

ARRIVAL and BLADE RUNNER 2049 director signs on for new DUNE movie

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.


Anonymous said...

Very excited for this. The guy is one of the most exciting directors on the planet right now. The term "critically slated" - is that a typo? Is slated a synonym for "panned"? I haven't heard that term before and wasn't sure what you meant exactly.

Adam Whitehead said...

"Slated" is a common UK term for "panned", yes.

Joseph Evans said...

I think a Dune adaptation is always going to be a very difficult thing to pull off. The setting pretty much demands a high budget, but the books themselves are as much about Herbert's philosophical ideas on religion and power-structures, the environment, and human advancement as they are about giant worms and sci-fi battles-- so that doing them justice means leaving in a lot of stuff that mass audiences will probably find boring.

That being said, however, I think that if anyone can succeed in walking that fine line between smart and thoughtful and exciting and crowd-pleasing, it's Denis Villeneuve.

Unknown said...

Interesting. A long time since I read it but I think it would be possible to make three films out of the three parts of the original novel, DUNE. Maybe five films including MESSIAH and CHILDREN.

Anonymous said...

No less than SIX films will suffice!

Unknown said...

I am one of the people that enjoyed Lynch's Dune and felt it was in the spirit of the book. The later adaptation, which was almost word for word from the book, didn't feel half as intimately connected to the book. Yes, a TV adaptation would have been grand, but I don't think people would crowd to watch it. Instead a (well) distilled version, focusing on the inner dialogues and the extreme conditions and abilities people have would work just as well.