Dune: The Sisterhood is coming soon to expand the burgeoning franchise in both space and time. While the 2021 movie was closely based on the seminal 1965 novel, this spinoff series will reach deeper into the lore. Read on for an explainer on the series as well as all the production updates we've gotten so far.
Legendary Films, Warner Bros. and Denis Villeneuve announced Dune: The Sisterhood years ago, but concrete details only began coming out in October of 2022. The show will be set about 10,000 years before the main events of Dune, and will star Emily Watson and Shirley Henderson as two members of "the sisterhood" – an early precursor to the Bene Gesserit order. The far-flung timeline means that the show will have a very different aesthetic and culture from the main films. However, it will still have some familiar anchors for fans since Watson and Henderson's characters will both be members of House Harkonnen.
Welcome Shirley Henderson and Emily Watson to the cast of Legendary’s Dune: The Sisterhood series. pic.twitter.com/mF21f5Ehnl— Legendary (@Legendary) October 4, 2022
Watson and Henderson will play Valya and Tula Harkonnen, respectively. We can only speculate about what life looks like for these intergalactic aristocrats, and about the status of this "sisterhood" they are joining is. Other confirmed cast members include Indira Varma, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Faoileann Cunningham, Aoife Hinds, and Chloe Lea.
Dune: The Sisterhood was announced back in June 2019, but it has had a slow development process. Originally, Diane Ademu-John and Alison Schapker were going to serve as co-showrunners, However, this weekend Deadline reported that Ademu-John had left the project. Ademu-John was credited as the creator of this series, but she has reportedly decided to focus on other commitments. She will still serve as an executive producer along with Schapker, director Denis Villeneuve and author Brian Herbert, among others.
Legendary is co-producing this series with HBO Max and planning to release it as an HBO Max original series. Director Johan Renck confirmed that the show began filming in Budapest last week, but it's still hard to estimate when we will see it for ourselves. Villeneuve's Dune: Part Two has been filming since July 2022. It is slated for release on Nov. 3, 2023.
These movies and TV shows are based on The Dune Chronicles novels by Frank Herbert, and will most likely draw from the extended material co-written by his son, Brian Herbert. Frank Herbert wrote six Dune novels between 1965 and 1986, with plans for at least one more. His work implied a long timeline and a vast universe, leaving room for plenty more stories within his fictional setting.
Brian Herbert and author Kevin J. Anderson began writing additional Dune novels in 1999, originally based on private notes left behind by Frank. Some of these extended and concluded Frank's original story, others served as prequels and still others simply fleshed out this universe. More background on the Bene Gesserit has always been a topic of particular interest.
Based on its placement in the series' timeline, Dune: The Sisterhood may present a very different universe than the main series does – but no more recognizable to us. Dune is set in a fictionalized version of humanity's future, but the main series starts about 22,000 years after the present day. If Sisterhood takes place about 10,000 years before that, it probably takes place either during or immediately after the "Butlerian Jihad" – a fictional event in which all of humanity went to war among themselves and against their own artificial intelligence. In Herbert's novels, this religious hatred of AI is why humanity instead relies on the mysterious Spice Melange to calculate paths for interstellar travel.0comments
However, this tells us little about the content of Sisterhood. We don't know for sure which, if any, of Brian Herbert and Anderson's books will be treated as canon in this emerging screen adaptation franchise. When it comes out, die-hard fans will undoubtedly be cross-referencing all 22 novels and nine companion books to try and figure it out.
All of these books are available now in print and digital format, as well as audiobooks in the case of the novels. Dune: Part One is streaming now on HBO Max, and Dune: Part Two will be released in theaters on Nov. 3, 2023. There is no word yet on when Dune: The Sisterhood will be released.