The long-in-development remake of science fiction classic Dune may soon be added to the list of Hollywood blockbusters that never came to fruition.
According to Deadline, Paramount Pictures will lose the rights to develop a new movie based on Dune if it doesn't have a production start date nailed down by next spring. That's because the holders of the rights to the Frank Herbert novel—the Herbert estate and ABC—will not grant the studio another extension to its option. Rumors have also surfaced that Paramount execs were getting frustrated themselves after developing the project for four years and were considering canceling it completely (or, to use Hollywood jargon, putting it in turnaround).
Director Peter Berg was working on the project for several years before leaving to direct Battleship. A second director, Pierre Morel of Taken fame, was also on board for a while before exiting, although he may stick around as an executive producer. The studio and producers recently had another draft of the script written, by Chase Palmer, and were said to be shopping it to directors this week. But Paramount is also apparently willing to shelve the picture if execs are not totally confident that they have the right script and director for a film that is sure to cost well north of $100 million. The producers and rights holders are also quite willing to go elsewhere if Paramount doesn't pull the trigger.
Dune is still a very hot property off the screen, with the original book and a continuing series of sequels and video games selling briskly. But the 1984 big-screen version directed by David Lynch, despite being reappraised by critics and fans over the years, was a massive flop at the box office. The Syfy Channel miniseries that premiered in 2000 was a big success and helped take the sting out of the original movie's failure, but there's still some concern over whether Dune, with its cerebral, hardcore sci-fi concepts, can sell to mainstream moviegoers (this ain't Transformers, folks).
Would you like to see yet another movie based on Dune? Or should Hollywood leave it alone?