Dune is officially getting a sequel, and anyone who read the original novel by Frank Herbert has some idea of what comes next. Still, there are details to pin down and changes to account for when looking ahead to Denis Villeneuve's Dune: Part Two. Read on for a summary of everything we know about the production, as well as some insights from the original novels.
Dune has been called "unfilmable" over the last half-century, in spite of its megalithic stature in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Villeneuve seemed to crack the code at last with his new film adaptation, which was technically titled Dune: Part One. He only adapted about half of the original 1965 novel, giving the movie an episodic feel. (That sense may continue in the sequel, as Villeneuve has said he is interested in adapting at least one more book from The Dune Saga, making three movies total.) Whether his filmmaking style would suit some of the events of later books remains to be seen.
Dune: Part One was made to be a part of a series from the very beginning. So like Paul seeing Spice-induced visions in the desert, we have some very heavy-handed hints that we can interpret about what comes next. Read on for everything we know about the Dune sequel, but be warned: there are spoilers for the movie and some spoilers for the books below.
Before WarnerMedia formally announced a Dune sequel, the clearest hint from the company came from Warner Bros. CEO Anna Sarnoff's comment to Deadline over the weekend. She said: "Will we have a sequel to Dune? If you watch the movie you see how it ends. I think you pretty much know the answer to that. The story in itself sets up for a sequel. The production is so amazing and the storytelling is so compelling that it's not going to be judged on box office alone."
It's true that Dune: Part One effectively ends on a cliffhanger, with Chani (Zendaya) even saying this is "only the beginning." The news likely took until this week to be made official, as frustrating as that is to fans, because work on the new installment likely couldn't really begin until those contracts were negotiated.prevnext
Dune: Part Two is currently slated for release on Oct. 20, 2023, though of course that depends on the production itself wrapping up in time. According to a report by Deadline, a big reason for the delay in these negotiations was Legendary Pictures' dislike of simultaneous releases both in theaters and on HBO Max. The company needed assurance in writing that the sequel would not be distributed in the same way. This was already an issue with other collaborations between the two companies during the pandemic, such as Godzilla vs. Kong.prevnext
Still, for further reassurance that Dune was always planned and developed as a two-part movie, we have director Denis Villeneuve's interview with Vanity Fair last April. At the time, he said: "I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie," and that the book was "too complex" to be adapted into a single movie, with "power in details" that would inevitably be lost.
That same report said that Warner Bros. had "agreed" to tell this story in two separate movies, comparing it to the development of Stephen King's IT in recent years.prevnext
Also confirmed is a TV series to serve as a companion to Villeneuve's movie called Dune: The Sisterhood. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that this series got the green light way back in June of 2019, though updates have been sparse since then. Villeneuve will produce the TV series and direct the pilot episode.
The show's title refers to the Bene Gesserit — the esoteric secret society that Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) belongs to in Dune: Part One. The show will reportedly be a prequel centered around the Bene Gesserit, but beyond that, we know little about the content. Reports indicate that it will be an HBO Max Original series.prevnext
Dune: The Sisterhood did give us one promising hint that work on Dune: Part Two is already underway. The initial reports in June of 2019 said that the pilot episode of the TV series would be written by Jon Spaihts, who co-wrote the script for Dune: Part One. However, in November of 2019 The Hollywood Reporter learned that Spaihts had left the show "so he can instead focus on the yet-to-be-formally-announced film sequel" to Dune itself. Another report by Collider said that Eric Roth had written a full treatment for Dune: Part Two, and that work on the script was already underway.
The fact that any work was being done on Dune: Part Two at all bodes well for a green light, as a writer like Spaihts is not likely to put a lot of work into a blockbuster like this on spec. However, in fairness, the report also states that Spaihts left Dune: The Sisterhood because "sources say Legendary TV was not happy with the early work Spaihts submitted" on the scripts. Spaihts was replaced by Diane Ademu-John as showrunner.prevnext
Villeneuve was even more optimistic about the franchise at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, where he said that he was not only hoping to adapt the rest of Dune into Dune: Part Two, but to make a third movie based on Herbert's second novel, Dune Messiah. His comment seemed to imply that Messiah would be adapted into just one movie, and that it would stand as a trilogy, meaning the other four books would be left alone for now.
Dune Messiah begins 12 years after the events of Dune, and finds Paul weary of leadership and governance, feeling that he still lacks the power to save humanity from societal stagnation, ultimately, destruction. Without giving too much away, it's worth pointing out that this book, too, ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so it's not clear why it would make a logical ending point.prevnext
Over the decades, critics and filmmakers have said that Dune is "impossible" to adapt to the screen because of its massive scope and complex spread of political allegiances. In fairness to Villeneuve, the third book, Children of Dune, is where this "impossibility" really comes into play. Whether any filmmaker could do the remainder of the story justice after that is up for debate - though fans on Twitter are eager to see someone try.prevnext
Either way, there are a few things newly-indoctrinated fans of the franchise might want to know as they look ahead and hope for Dune: Part Two - especially if they don't plan on reading the book. First, it's worth noting that Chani will play a much bigger role in the story going forward, so any Zendaya fans who felt cheated by her sparse appearances in the first movie will be vindicated in Part Two.0comments
Other characters likely to get more screentime include Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), Thufir Hawat (Stephen McKinley Henderson), Stilgar (Javier Bardem), Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), Piter De Vries (David Dastmalchian) and Glossu Rabban (Dave Bautista). On the villains' side, one vital character has not been seen yet - Feyd-Rautha, the baron's young nephew who functions as a foil for Paul.
Fans with lingering expository questions from the first movie can also be assured that they will probably be answered - the nature of Spice, the reason it is essential to space travel, the convoluted political plot that put House Atreides in this position, and so on. All of these questions and more were left hanging by the first movie, strongly indicating that it was not made to stand alone. Stay tuned for updates on Dune: Part Two as they become available.prev