Even without any Arrakeen Spice to tell the future, we can see Dune: Part Two taking shape. The sequel to the 2021 blockbuster Dune is just over a year away, and it will complete the story of Frank Herbert's legendary 1965 novel. Read on for a breakdown of everything we know about the movie so far.
Dune: Part One was adapted to the screen by director Denis Villeneuve, who dreamed of tackling this supposedly "unfilmable" project for years. Part of his solution to the story's challenges was to split it into two parts, so the 2021 movie only told about half of the story in the book. That decision seemed to go over well with most fans, though some feel that they won't be able to judge its success until they see the second half. Dune: Part Two is currently scheduled to premiere on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023.
Dune: Part Two began filming last week, and there are many production details we can sort through to get some hints about the movie. We also have statements, quotes and interviews to consider for those interested. Of course, there are always the books for those that can't wait to see exactly what happens next in Paul Atreides' story.
Moreover, 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.
Dune: Part Two is currently slated for release on Friday, Nov. 17, 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. Both movies were shuffled in the schedule several times.prevnext
Dune: Part Two began filming in July of 2022 in Europe. According to a report by Collider, pre-shooting began in Italy on July 4, followed by principal photography in Hungary on July 18.prevnext
New Cast Members
Throughout the spring of 2022, three major new cast members were announced for Dune: Part Two. Reports have now confirmed that Austin Butler will play Feyd-Rautha, the heir to house Harkonnen and rival to Paul Atreides. Florence Pugh will play Princess Irulan, the heir-apparent to the galactic empire itself, while Chrisopher Walken will play Emperor Shaddam IV. These characters loomed large from the beginning in the book, but it makes sense to reserve them for Part Two here where they will be more relevant and keep the story simple.
In June, Deadline reported that actress Léa Seydoux was in talks to play Lady Margot Fenring in the new movie -- another Bene Gesserit and a close friend of the emperor. The outlet also learned that actress Souheila Yacoub had been cast as the Fremen Shishakli.prevnext
What's Next for 'Dune'?
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.
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 (Austin Butler), 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.prevnext
Why Two Parts?
Some fans may be confused as to why Dune was adapted into two movies, and why the second installment was not greenlit until after the first was released. Before WarnerMedia formally announced a Dune sequel, the clearest hint from the company came from Warner Bros. CEO Anna Sarnoff's comment to Deadline in November of 2021. 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." Still, the sequel was not confirmed as there were only coy comments about the possibility. As frustrating as that is to fans, work on the new installment likely couldn't really begin until the cast and crew's contracts were negotiated.
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 in April of 2020. 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
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 and, 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. Villeneuve has said nothing about adapting Herbert's third novel or the ones that come after it.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. In the spring of 2022, Deadline reported that the was still in development and that Johan Renck has been hired to direct two of the episodes.
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 report 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
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.prev