While promoting his science fiction film Arrival, director Denis Villeneuve revealed a dream science fiction project he’d love to get his hands on. That would be a remake of the David Lynch film Dune, which was based on the series of novels by Frank Herbert.
“I’m always looking for sci-fi material, and it’s difficult to find original and strong material that’s not just about weaponry. A longstanding dream of mine is to adapt “Dune,” but it’s a long process to get the rights, and I don’t think I will succeed.”
Set in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which noble houses, in control of individual planets, owe allegiance to the Padishah Emperor, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose noble family accepts the stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis. As this planet is the only source of the “spice” melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe, control of Arrakis is a coveted — and dangerous — undertaking. The story explores the multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other in a struggle for the control of Arrakis and its “spice”
The books are considered science fiction masterpieces and many believed the original film missed the mark completely, as it was a flop in 1984 and killed Lynch’s blockbuster career.
Denis wouldn’t be the only frustrated filmmaker attempting to make the film, as the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune focused on the odyssey Alejandro Jodorowsky of attempting to make his own version of the film in the 70s. Only for the film to fall apart after studios weren’t willing to spend the money on it, his massive bible for the film would eventually influence things like Star Wars, Alien and Blade Runner.
The ambitious project almost fell into the hands of sub-par directors like Battleship‘s Peter Berg and Taken‘s Pierre Morel, who would have likely made mindless action films rather than the sci-fi masterpiece it should be. I’m sort of grateful their incarnations never came together.
Paramount eventually lost the film rights and they have reverted back to the Herbert estate.
Essentially, the perfect storm would be Villeneuve directing with the blessing of Jodorowsky using his Dune bible as blueprint for the film. I’m curious if Alcon Entertainment is happy enough with Denis’ work on Blade Runner 2 that they could attempt to pursue the rights for him.
Whoever secures the film rights could end-up developing a six-part film franchise adapting the six books that include Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune.