If they have to adapt Dune again—and let’s be frank, we all knew the ubiquitous ‘they’ were going to try—this is the best possible scenario. The rumor made the rounds back in December, but now it’s official: Sicario and Arrival director Denis Villeneuve will helm Dune.
Okay, the studio didn’t send out a press release or anything like that, so we have to take “official” with a grain of salt. But, this is much more solid than just rumor and hearsay. Last night, Brian Herbert, son of Dune scribe Frank Herbert, who also picked up his father’s legacy and penned a number Dune books, released this Tweet:
It's official -- Legendary Pictures has signed the very talented Denis Villeneuve to direct the exciting new DUNE series film project.— Brian Herbert (@DuneAuthor) February 1, 2017
If anyone is in a position to know about this sort of thing, it’s going to be Brian Herbert, so I’m taking this as solid.
It’s curious that Herbert refers to it as a “DUNE series film project.” The Dune universe is, of course, a massive, sprawling affair. And with a built in global audience, you can bet your ass Legendary has eyes on making this a franchise. That’s a given.
But there were also rumblings of an accompanying television series. Since Herbert specifies this is a film project, does that mean that a TV show is also in the works? Will Denis Villeneuve direct more than one chapter?
There are tons of other questions. We don’t who’s writing, what the timeline is, who’s producing, who’ll star. I’m just saying, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Kyle MacLachlan, Jurgen Prochnow, and a bunch of other players in David Lynch’s 1984 version are still kicking around, surely there’s a way to work them in.
I’m mostly psyched that this means Denis Villeneuve is sticking around the sci-fi neighborhood for the foreseeable future. Arrival blew my hair back (and landed on my Top Ten of 2016 list) and that first Blade Runner 2049 trailer made me think maybe the long-gestating sequel wasn’t a terrible idea after all.
First published in 1965, Dune was regarded as notoriously un-filmable. Avant-garde cinematic legend Alejandro Jodorowsky notoriously mounted his own production, which fizzled out and never materialized. (The resulting documentary, Jodorowsky’s Dune, however, is fantastic.) And David Lynch’s version, while it has a cult following, isn’t so well regarded. The 2000 SyFy (then still SciFi) miniseries was okay, but it left much to be desired. Both Pierre Morel (Taken) and Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon) tried to get adaptations off the ground, only to go nowhere.
If anyone can pull it off, I’m hopeful that it’s Denis Villeneuve. This simply seems like a perfect fit. He has the necessary scope and scale on lock, and a good handle on the themes and tension the story requires—there’s so much more to this narrative than simple action. If nothing else, I’m stoked to see another science fiction joint from the Canadian director.