The vast majority of big budget blockbusters are either designed with sequels in mind, or have entire trilogies announced before a single frame has even been shot. Denis Villenueve’s Dune does tick a couple of those boxes, but it’s a much riskier proposition for a number of reasons.
For one thing, weighty sci-fi has always been pretty hit-or-miss at the box office, and the $165 million epic’s chances of turning a profit in theaters have been significantly hampered by Warner Bros.’ decision to debut the entire slate of 2021 titles on HBO Max the same day they hit the big screen, with the director already voicing his disappointment over the call.
Dune only tells half a story, with the remainder of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel being held in reserve for a potential sequel, which would see Zendaya’s Chani assume the role of protagonist at the expense of Timothee Chalamet’s Paul Atreides. In a new interview, Villenueve admitted that he’s quietly confident about the chances of his second installment getting the green light, but there’s one potentially significant obstacle to overcome.
“We have been hearing in the past few decades that it’s not possible to adapt this book, and that it’s an impossible task. I think that in the back of the mind of the studio, it’s still the same!. So the first thing was to prove that there was a beautiful, popular movie that can exist, and I think that I proved that, everybody at Warner Bros and Legendary, they are 100% behind the project. They feel that it would need a really bad outcome at the box office to not have a Dune: Part Two, because they love the movie. They are proud of the movie, so they want the movie to move forward. And they still did half of it. So, you know, I’m very optimistic.”
The studio and production company are backing Dune to the hilt, but it’s all about how audiences react. That being said, the film has plenty working in its favor including one of the most star powered ensembles in recent memory, some lavish production design and no shortage of jaw-dropping visuals, all of which has been gleaned from just a couple of trailers and promo spots.
One crew member thinks it has the potential to be this generation’s The Lord of the Rings, but the jury remains out on whether the sequel will happen until Dune arrives in October.