As scouting locations and concept art is in full swing, Blade Runner 2049 director to film first half of Frank Herbert’s original book recounting the birth of Muad’Dib and the uprising of a people.
As far back as December 2016 director, Denis Villeneuve was chosen by Legendary Pictures to helm their adaptation of Dune, after purchasing the rights from Paramount and swiftly losing their previous choice, Deepwater Horizon’s Peter Berg, who left the project earlier the same year. With Villeneuve confirmed in February 2017 and saying very early on he planned to make two films within the Dune world, it is now assured that the director will only use the first half of James Herbert’s 1965 all-time classic sci-fi drama, in an attempt to stick as close to the original as conceivably possible. Given that the story was originally published as two separate serials in Analog magazine, before being bound in one volume, you don’t have to be a member of the Bene Gesserit to sense this is a much better option.
And to top it off the concept artist Peter Konig has previously posted images of the Spice worms. Which could be quite informative when you consider his having worked alongside Villeneuve on Arrival, delivering some concept art for the spaceships and alien heptapods, Abbott and Costello. With 29 years in the industry, producing concept art for such movies as Jurassic Park, Jupiter Ascending, Passengers, The 5th Wave and Lost in Space, as well as for games including Guild Wars 2, EVOLVE, Halo 4 and Left 4 Dead his visionary style would surely not go amiss on the new movie. The concept art itself can be found on Artstation.
And Herbert’s own son Brian Herbert, executive producer on the movie, has now confirmed the news about the decision via Twitter, commenting “I have just received Draft #4 of the DUNE screenplay from Legendary Pictures. This is for the first movie, covering approximately half of the novel DUNE. I’m very excited and pleased about this, and I’m beginning to burn the midnight oil.” And as a biographer of his late father, writer of many prequels and other novels within the Dune series, co-written with Kevin J Anderson, there is surely none better to ensure this is the right decision. As the first to confirm Villeneuve’s role, he has also proven a valuable font of knowledge on the project to fans, such as regular updates on the script status and tweeting news about location scouting, commenting “Intense activity on the movie . . . While the next draft of the screenplay is being written, Legendary also has a scout at work, traveling to several countries to look at possible filming locations . . . for dessert and other scenes.” Brian has even recently asked fans themselves for their casting hopes for Duke Leto and Lady Jessica Atreides.
In the novel, there is a clear halfway breakpoint, when young Paul and his mother Lady Jessica escape the Harkonnen’s to hide out in the desert of Arrakis and join the Fremen, an event which culminates in Paul becoming their leader. A perfect place to end the first segment, as the next part to follow involves a jump forward in time. And with news, it will star Call Me By Your Name actor Timothy Chalamet as Muad’Dib himself Paul Atreides and Villeneuve himself previously stating there could be two movies coming from his working on the project it seems to be this is a positive outlook, though a release date is still pending. But good things come to those who wait, so keep calm fans, after all….fear is the Mindkiller.
Fans have waited many years for a worthy adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic sprawling saga with limited success. Beginning with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 10 hour ‘inspired’ version in the mid-seventies, collaborating with the likes of Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, and Mick Jagger. Having taken over from Arthur P. Jacobs, who died before being able to complete his version when he optioned the film rights in 1973, the closest he managed was a 2013 American/French documentary, telling of his failed attempt.
Even sci-fi director supreme Ridley Scott was attached to a Dune related project at one point. The only versions that saw the light of day, however, were David Lynch’s 1984 film and Frank Herbert’s Sci-Fi channel mini-series in 2000. Lynch’s version, starring a young Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart, Sting and Virginia Madsen, was a critical and box office failure. Though it was lauded as a cult classic among some fans, others deemed it overly dull and melodramatic by others, as well as going too far off plot. A state of affairs that caused David Lynch to remove his own name and replace it with that of Alan Smithee, a pseudonym used by directors who want to disown their own children so to speak.
Released in 2000 the Sci-Fi channel miniseries starred William Hurt, Alec Newman, and Saskia Reeves and on a budget of $20,000,000 also met with little success, although the cast, especially Saskia Reeves as Lady Jessica were stand out performances. And though it was an arguably more accurate and less convoluted version, it met with similar problems, with pacing faltering slightly. And although the use of Irulan was inspired to, cut out the voiceover of Lynch’s version, it did still suffer from overexplaining of the plot. It did however manage to spawn the 2003 sequel Children of Dune, which added James McAvoy as Paul’s son Leto II to the cast and upon combining the stories of Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, was more successful and also critically acclaimed, with Variety stating that the adaptation was “decidedly more accessible, even if that means more soap like”.
Even with this seeming curse of the Dune adaptations, it is thought Villeneuve is expected to make this the first of many films set within that new Cinematic Universe. Legendary Pictures, who own both the film and TV rights to Dune related materials are clearly not intimidated by the grand dynasty of the Houses within the Dune saga. With the critical success of his former projects Arrival, itself an adaptation of The Story Of Your Life, by Ted Chiang, the long-awaited Blade Runner sequel Blade Runner 2049 and Sicario, itself managing to create a sequel of late, Villeneuve can be counted on to give it the best treatment possible and create a story with a possible bright future.
Visit www.legendary.com for more and don’t miss this exciting adaptation coming in the not too distant future and of course, keep up with news straight from the source with Brian Herbert’s Twitter page and his novel page.
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