Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 director could be making Dune next

Contributed by
Dec 21, 2016

As if filmmaker Denis Villeneuve doesn't have enough sci-fi on his plate, he may be tackling Frank Herbert's masterpiece next.

That's the word from Variety, which reports the director of Arrival and next year's Blade Runner 2049 is possibly going to stay firmly in the genre with a new adaptation of the classic Frank Herbert novel Dune.

Dune is regularly cited as one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, if not the greatest, and follows the story of Paul Atreides, a young man whose family is given control of the planet Arrakis and its valuable "spice," melange, which is necessary for space travel and is the basis of certain extra-sensory powers in humans. But when the family is betrayed, Paul finds himself leading the native inhabitants of the planet in a rebellion against the Emperor, even as his own growing psychic powers hint that he is Arrakis' long-prophesied messiah.

Dune was made into a notoriously muddled movie in 1984 by director David Lynch, and was remade in 2000 as a Syfy miniseries with somewhat better results (avant-garde director Alejandro Jodorowsky also tried to mount a version of the story in the 1970s, which is chronicled in the fascinating documentary Jodorowsky's Dune). The book is frankly challenging and dense enough to read, let alone adapt for either the big or small screen, but Villeneuve's brilliant work on Arrival shows he has considerable skill in bringing complex sci-fi concepts to cinematic life. If there is a director who can harness Dune for moviegoing audiences, he seems the likeliest candidate.

Villeneuve is said to be in "early talks" to direct the movie, for which the rights were recently acquired from the Herbert estate by Legendary Pictures, home of big-screen epics like Godzilla and Pacific Rim. Legendary closed the deal last month, which included not just the rights to make films but also TV projects from Herbert's saga. It's not clear if Villeneuve would make the one movie and walk away, or be involved in either movie or TV sequels (Herbert himself wrote six Dune novels, and his son has co-written or overseen plenty more of them since the senior Herbert died 30 years ago). 

Do you think Dune can be made into a successful, quality motion picture? And is Denis Villeneuve the guy to do it?