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Denis Villeneuve wants Dune: Part Two in theaters fast, eyes possible Part Three

If two Villeneuve-directed visits to Arrakis are great, how about three?

By Benjamin Bullard
Dune Still

Now that Warner Bros. has given the all clear for director Denis Villeneuve to follow up on Dune's box office success by giving the film a full-length second chapter, the only big question — aside from which new characters it’ll introduce — is just how soon work can get started on the next movie.

Unlike a lot of film franchises not named Star Wars, the followup to Villeneuve’s big-screen take on Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic novel isn’t a standalone story that exists apart from the film that came before. Instead, it’s an evolution of the events that’ve only just been set in motion in the first movie. For Villeneuve, that means time is of the essence when it comes to ramping up production for Part Two.

“The good news,” Villeneuve recently told The Hollywood Reporter, “is that a lot of the work has been done already regarding design, casting, locations, and writing. So we’re not starting from scratch. It’s not a long period of time, but I will try to face that challenge because it’s important for me that the audience sees Part Two as soon as possible.”

Dune: Part Two currently has a release date of Oct. 20, 2023 (and this time it’ll debut only in theaters, instead of sharing a small-screen premiere with HBO Max). Though he wants to take as little time as possible between the two films, Villeneuve told THR his most ambitious shooting schedule would likely target fall of 2022 for filming to start. He cautioned, though, that “even that would be fast.”

Even so, Villeneuve said it’s vital to keep Dune fresh on fans’ minds before their memories stale over the fate of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) —not to mention Paul’s newly-struck alliance with Chani (Zendaya) and her desert-dwelling Fremen.

Part Two isn’t “a sequel where it’s another episode or another story with the same characters,” Villeneuve explained. “It actually has direct continuity to the first movie. It’s the second part of the big huge movie that I’m trying to do. So the sooner the better.”

If two Villeneuve-directed visits to Arrakis are great, how about three? The Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival director said he “could foresee the idea of maybe doing a third movie, Dune Messiah,” if Part Two ends up scoring another successful box office run. Dune Messiah, as fans of the books know, is the second of six novels set in Herbert’s Dune universe.

Dune is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.