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Will We Get a Sequel to Dune?

Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet in Dune. (Warner Bros. Pictures/Legendary Pictures)

Continuing my thorough, excessive, borderline-compulsive coverage of the coming release of Denis Villeneuve’s film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi epic Dune (see here, here, here, and here), I must take note of the director’s comments in an interview with TotalFilm. It may be strange already to be thinking about a sequel to a movie that hasn’t even been released yet. But those of us who have been following the production of Dune closely know that it is not going to tell the whole story of the novel; it is expected to cut off somewhere around halfway through (and some of us might have a good idea of where). Does this mean a sequel is guaranteed, à la the two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s It from a few years ago? Maybe . . . but maybe not. Villeneueve said that “it would need a really bad outcome at the box office to not have a Dune: Part Two.”

I’m obviously not objective about this project, but I think Dune has the potential for such success. Yet there are obstacles, and not just in the form of the lingering presence of coronavirus. Last year, Warner Bros., the studio home of Dune, announced that its entire 2021 film slate would be released in theaters and immediately on HBO Max, its affiliated streaming service. Villeneuve was not happy with this decision, claiming that he intended and designed Dune as an immersive theatrical experience. He sounded a similar note speaking with TotalFilm:

Frankly, to watch Dune on a television, the best way I can compare it is to drive a speedboat in your bathtub. For me, it’s ridiculous. It’s a movie that has been made as a tribute to the big-screen experience.

This puts Denis Villeneuve and Dune in the same position occupied by Christopher Nolan and Tenet last fall: For both commercial and artistic reasons, auteur wants you to see his big-budget sci-fi movie in a theater. I did what Nolan told me to do last fall (I enjoyed going to the movie . . . the movie itself was a mixed bag); this fall, I fully intend to follow Villeneueve’s wishes as well. So grab your stillsuits and get ready for October 22, people. If Dune ends up being worthy, only we can get it the sequel it deserves.

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