It’s sometimes easy to forget that despite their massive budgets, even studio films like Dune can’t afford to get too ambitious with all of these otherworldly set pieces. In fact, according to what screenwriter Eric Roth recently told IndieWire, the movie originally had a much more epic intro that director Denis Villeneuve discarded because it simply wasn’t worth the cost.
The filmmaker is now a veteran of the sci-fi scene, having directed some of the best genre films in the last decade, including 2016’s Arrival and the highly-acclaimed Blade Runner 2049. In fact, even barring his obvious experience, the latter taught Villeneuve a valuable lesson with its staggering $185 million budget, which against a box office gross of $260 million, ended up losing the studio approximately $80 million.
Dune ended up performing way better than that, of course, but even then, it’s no secret that many productions – even the most conspicuous in terms of scale – sometimes have to cut corners to avoid such misfortunes.
As Roth explains, for Villeneuve, that was the original intro to Dune, which he loved, but ultimately had to get rid of because the team couldn’t otherwise “afford the rest of the movie.”
“Because I’m adventurous, I started the movie with what would seem to be Genesis — ‘and God created’ — and you think you’re seeing the formation of the Earth. And it’s Dune with wild animals, things you’ve never seen. Denis said, ‘This is magnificent, but now we can’t afford the rest of the movie.'”
While it would’ve been really cool to see this Biblical take on the creation of Arrakis, I’m sure most of us can agree that the opening sequence works just fine as it is, especially if this simpler version meant that Villeneuve and his producers could divert the available resources to where Dune needed them the most.