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What to Expect from Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’

Finally, ‘Dune’ might just get the cinematic treatment it deserves.
Dune Chalamet
Warner Bros.
By  · Published on July 22nd, 2021

Welcome to Great Expectations, a recurring series in which we break down the most essential information about an upcoming movie or show. In this edition, we look at what you can expect from — and where you can watch — the new movie adaptation of Dune.

To say that adapting Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel Dune into a movie has been a difficult journey would be an understatement of epic proportions. We’ve seen one version fall through, another version that failed to draw a crowd, and a TV miniseries version that’s fine but not very memorable. But now, Dune is (hopefully) finally getting the cinematic treatment it deserves. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049), with a screenplay by Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts (Prometheus), and Eric Roth (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), the new adaptation is gearing up to make a big splash in fall 2021.

Here’s everything you need to know about Denis Villeneuve’s Dune:

Dune Release Date (and Where to Watch)

Production on Dune saw significant delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the movie finally has a date locked in. Warner Bros. will release the adaptation in theaters and for streaming on HBO Max on October 22, 2021. If you’re one of those people who likes to read the book first, you might want to get started ASAP.

Dune Cast

The adaptation’s cast includes Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina), Zendaya (Spider-Man: Far From Home), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men), Stellan Skarsgård (Mamma Mia!), Charlotte Rampling (The Night Porter), Dave Bautista (Army of the Dead), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Lady Bird), David Dastmalchian (Prisoners), Chang Chen (A Brighter Summer Day), and Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Blooded).

The Plot of Dune

It’s hard to think of a work of science fiction that has more complicated lore than Dune. The original novel takes place in an alternate galaxy where people are constantly going to war over land and resources. The story starts with Duke Leto (Isaac), a wealthy heir asked by his Emperor to mine a valuable mind-altering drug called “spice” on the desert planet Arrakis. Later, his son Paul Atreides (Chalamet) is tasked to finish his father’s mission. But he isn’t the only person who wants to take over Arrakis, and an epic battle commences.

While Villeneuve will be following the plot of Herbert’s novel, he told Vanity Fair that he will be making some tweaks. For example, he will be adding to the character of Atreides’ mother, Lady Jessica (Ferguson), and changing Dr. Liet-Kynes to a woman, played by Duncan-Brewster.

The movie is expected to only cover about half of the first Dune novel, leaving a lot of room for at least one sequel, currently known as Dune: Part Two. As Villeneuve explained to Vanity Fair:

“I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie. The world is too complex. It’s a world that takes its power in details.”

Watch the Trailers

When Warner Bros. announced Denis Villeneuve would adapt Dune into a movie, the general prediction was that it would be pretty magnificent. The trailers confirm that theory. Let’s see, there’s some killer acting from Chalamet. Sleek and mysterious aesthetics. And, of course, a bold new imagining of the infamous Sandworm. This adaptation looks like it’s going to have just about everything you loved about the book — and more. Watch the two trailers here:

A Prequel Show is Already in the Works

Already worried that Villeneuve’s Dune won’t be enough for you? No need to worry. A spin-off show, called Dune: The Sisterhood, is already in the works for HBO Max. The series will take place before the events of the new movie. And the focus will be on the Bene Gesserit, a mysterious order of women with special abilities. Villeneuve explained this decision:

“The Bene Gesserit have always been fascinating to me. Focusing a series around that powerful order of women seemed not only relevant and inspiring but a dynamic setting for the television series.”

Villeneuve will direct at least the pilot episode, while Jon Spaihts is writing the script. So get ready to get your sci-fi on, because the Dune universe is here to stay.

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Aurora Amidon spends her days running the Great Expectations column and trying to convince people that Hostel II is one of the best movies of all time. Read her mostly embarrassing tweets here: @aurora_amidon.