Warner Brothers just announced that Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune now has an official release date of November 2020. The news comes on the heels of the director currently working on hiring every actor ever for the film. Jason Momoa was the latest addition to the cast where he is playing Duncan Idaho. We have also seen the likes of Josh Brolin come aboard as well as rumors that Zendaya is also attached. The rapid onslaught of announcements is a good sign that the studio feels confident that the movie will be something special and it worth getting a conversation started with the movie still well over a year away.
It also feels like a vote a confidence for Villeneuve himself who has had a ton of critical success but not so much in the box office. While 2016’s Arrival did pretty well for itself, his sequel to the classic Blade Runner was a major disappointment given how expensive that film ended up being. Normally having such a high profile failure can cause a filmmaker to be put in director jail while they recoup and rebuild trust with their studio. However, Villeneuve has proven to be enough of a visionary to be worth making the risk on putting him on an even larger project.
Dune as a story is a story that spans multiple planets and environments and also portray epic battles involving gigantic sandworms. The story simply cannot be made effectively on a small budget. The size of the cast is also a major indicator that the studio is paying top dollar to make something as epic as the original novel. The risk makes sense given Hollywood’s reliance on existing intellectual property, especially in a post Harry Potter world. Every studio is trying to find their own Cinematic Universe to rival the Disney juggernaut and are willing to spend millions to find a franchise that can sustain multiple movies that last years. The DC franchise has had more misses than hits so Warner Brothers definitely needs something else in the chamber to help supplement their attempts at competing with Disney as they become larger every year.
Dune can definitely be that series if they find a way to adequately portray the action and scope of the novel. The book is full of long passages involving intergalactic politics but it’s heart is in classic pulp action that helped inspire parts of Star Wars and The Matrix. The problem will end up becoming if and when the movie does become a major hit and becomes a sequel. While the first book is designed to be a fun adventure, the sequels are much more cerebral. By the second novel you are dealing with all kinds of political intrigue involving double agents, clones and religious infighting. It ends up running into the same problem that The Matrix Reloaded faced where you try to tell a story about a character that has godlike abilities. Once the hero has everything, what do you do then except tear down that hero to create conflict? Audiences recoiled at the character Neo suddenly not being as powerful as the first movie left him and the series struggled in creating new characters to care about. While Dune Messiah and the other sequels face the question of what it would be like to be a literal savior head on, that isn’t something that makes for a good time at the movies. You either have to find a way to make that story interesting or just throw it all out to tell something different which could backfire with fans and newcomers. It’s a balancing act that practically requires a guy like Villeneuve who feels like a filmmaker who can take that kind of question as a challenge. He has already proven to take a story like Blade Runner and tell something new and different with that story. Hopefully the producers are working that stuff out now and are able to do Frank Herbert’s universe justice and give us something visually and dramatically interesting.
Are you excited for the new Dune movie? Do you think they will make a series of them? Tell us in the comments!