Saturday, 11 November 2017

First draft of DUNE screenplay delivered

The first draft of the script for the new Dune movie has been completed. Screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Insider, Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) has finished his first pass for Legendary Pictures and the script will now be considered for rewrites.

Direct Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) will direct the picture, although he's indicated he may take a short break or even direct a small-scale movie before moving to tackle the vast and daunting Dune. Dune has been filmed twice before, with David Lynch helming an excellently-cast movie in 1984 which had to massively compress the story (although he was helped by the original author, Frank Herbert, who passed away in 1986), and the Sci-Fi Channel (as then was) filming a mini-series in 2000 which was more coherent but had poor production values.

There has been speculation that the new film version will adapt the original 1965 novel over two 2-3 hour movies, which will be more faithful to the novel, with the possibility of more films covering the five canonical sequels written by Frank Herbert if the first is successful (although most readers agree that the first book is, by far, the most suited for a visual adaptation).

One cause for concern is the tangential involvement of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. "Hackmeister" Anderson. Between 1997 and 2016 the two authors produced thirteen terrible, terrible books allegedly based on Frank Herbert's notes, although this later turned out to be a "slight exaggeration" (i.e. they made 99% of it up). Fortunately, their involvement on the new film seems to be a contractual and licensing issue, and hopefully any "creative" ideas they come up with (like shoehorning their fanfic characters Erasmus and Omnius into the original Dune) will be ignored.

I suspect we'll be lucky to see the new Dune movie this side of 2020, but Villeneuve is a talented and visionary director and Eric Roth is a solid writer, so with a good cast in place this could be a fascinating project.

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