Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy will always be viewed as a landmark achievement in cinema, and set a bar so high that all entries in the fantasy genre since Return of the King have found themselves compared to it in some fashion. That sort of generational lightning in a bottle doesn’t happen very often and can rarely if ever be surpassed, as Jackson found out himself when it came to The Hobbit.
There are very few franchises in history that gain such iconic status, with the original Star Wars trilogy and Harry Potter being two of the most notable, but in a recent interview, Dune art director Tom Brown revealed that he thinks Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming adaptation of the legendary sci-fi novel stands a real chance of joining them in such rarefied air.
“I think what Denis Villeneuve is doing is what’s called a seminal version of this story. I don’t think it will be topped, to be perfectly honest. The sheer scale of it is going to be daunting. But I do think it’s going to be extremely special. I heard in the paper the other day that they’re looking at the new Lord of the Rings, and I firmly believe that. I think it’s going to be up there with those kinds of films, really.”
There’s an awful lot riding on Dune, not least the fact that Warner Bros. are rumored to be shelling out almost $200 million for the star-studded blockbuster, with Villeneuve only adapting the first half of the source material in the hopes that it’ll prove successful enough to spawn a sequel.
Not only that, but David Lynch’s 1984 version infamously bombed at the box office, while Villeneuve’s own Blade Runner 2049 showed that while he’s a deft hand when it comes to big budget sci-fi, audiences aren’t guaranteed to turn up in massive numbers after the long-awaited follow-up to Ridley Scott’s classic made a disappointing $260 million at the box office on a budget of $185 million.
Dune is still tentatively penciled in for a December release, and with the first trailer expected to arrive this month we’ll soon have a much better idea of how the movie is shaping up, and whether or not it stands a chance of earning those Lord of the Rings comparisons.