Late this past October, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures premiered “Dune,” the latest live-action adaptation of the 1965 sci-fi novel masterpiece by Frank Herbert. This had been one of the most enduring visions of the galaxy in the distant future, before the original “Star Trek” series arrived a year later and “Star Wars” over a decade after. Unfortunately these two franchises overshadowed any treatments of “Dune,” from the first film (1984) to the 2000 miniseries on Sci-Fi (now SyFy). Despite trepidations, this 2021 remake directed by Denis Villeneuve was a box-office hit. The problem was, it ended on a cliffhanger, partway through the novel’s storyline.
It thus became obvious that a sequel to “Dune” will follow. As IGN has it, the estimated start of production and release date for Part 2 has been made known. Mary Parent, one of the movie’s producers, let slip the fact during a special screening of “Dune” for the Screen Actors Guild-AFTRA the previous weekend, November 6. According to Parent, barring any delays “Dune: Part II” could start filming as early as July of 2022. This is in line with an earlier announcement that the sequel will be released in October 2023. Denis Villeneuve will return as director, as will most of the main cast.
“Dune” takes place some 22,000 years in the future, when mankind has established a galactic empire. Interstellar travel and human longevity is made possible by “spice,” a rare substance found only on the desert planet Arrakis. The noble Atreides family is tasked by the Padishah Emperor to govern Arrakis in place of the Harkonen family. In reality, the Emperor and Baron Harkonen (Stellan Skarsgard) plan to set up the Atreides to be massacred. Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) must struggle to ensure the survival of his wife Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and son Paul (Timothee Chalamet).
Despite the unfinished storyline, “Dune” managed to make a killing in the pandemic-era box office, with $41 million on its opening weekend, and $331.1 million total worldwide as of November 7. This is remarkable given outside the US, only 14 countries and territories screened the film, with many theaters worldwide still closed because of COVID. Denis Villeneuve (“Blade Runner 2049”) also notes that there is no extended cut of the movie, and that the cinema release and HBO Max streaming version (simultaneous premiere) are identical.
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