We haven’t even seen a shred of footage yet, but it already feels like there’s a lot riding on the potential success of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. Not only are Warner Bros. reported to have forked out as much as $200 million on the latest adaptation of the seminal sci-fi novel, but the movie is only tackling the first half of the story in the hopes that it will prove successful enough to lead to a sequel.
There’s no denying that Villeneuve is one of the most accomplished visual filmmakers working today, but question marks remain over audience interest in big budget and thought-provoking sci-fi. His own Arrival may have done decent business after earning over $200 million at the box office on a $47 million budget, but his next feature Blade Runner 2049 didn’t fare as well after topping out at $260 million globally, which wasn’t exactly a great return for a critically-acclaimed sequel to an all-time classic that cost $185 million to put together.
Of course, the last time Dune was brought to the big screen, it resulted in one of the most infamous box office bombs in history, although David Lynch’s flawed take on the material has since gone on to become a firm cult favorite. In a recent interview, Kyle MacLachlan, who starred in the 1984 version, spoke about the upcoming remake and admitted that he believes doing justice to Frank Herbet’s work in the space of a single movie is almost impossible.
“There’s a mysticism about it that is difficult to capture on film. That, combined with a straight-ahead story, and characters that are really well-created. They’re full people, and you want to spend time with each one of them. And that eats up your film time. It’s a real puzzle. It’s just so many elements that you have to bring together. I remember that when I first started reading the book back in the day, I would get to about page 50 or 60 and then have to return back to the very beginning just to put all the players in place. There are so many relationships that are important to understand and know. To hold the stories of each of those so the audience can remember, it’s just almost impossible.”
Based on the reputation of both the novel and Lynch’s movie, Villenueve knew exactly what he was getting into when he agreed to tackle Dune. The latest adaptation is currently scheduled for a December release, and with the first trailer rumored to be arriving imminently, we’ll soon have a better idea of whether or not it could be this generation’s The Lord of the Rings as has been claimed.