Everything We Know About Denis Villeneuve’s Dune

27 April 2020
Dune, Dune 2020, Denis Villeneuve, Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Star Wars
Warner Brothers
The sci-fi epic was filmed in Abu Dhabi and Jordan

Denis Villeneuve is working on a long-awaited adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune, and filming large parts of it in Abu Dhabi and Jordan.

Nominated for a Best Director Oscar for Arrival and having steered the Blade Runner sequel home to critical success, fans of Frank Herbert’s book will have breathed a sigh of relief after Villeneuve was announced as director.

Dune remains a complex story that analyzes ecology, religion, spirituality, and politics, but if anyone can do it, it’s Villeneuve. Past iterations of the book, though, have met with varying degrees of success.

After a failed 70s adaptation from director Alejandro Jodorowsky that was nearing 14 hours long and had Pink Floyd working on the soundtrack, and Salvador Dali as a cast member, it was eventually canned. A documentary was made in 2013, exploring Jodorowsky’s epic failure.

In 1984 David Lynch’s attempt at an adaptation resulted in a cinematic mess. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lynch said that he has “zero interest” in the upcoming remake and looks back at his attempt as a “failure” and “heartache”. In fact, Lynch hates his film so much, he removed his name from the credits.

Can Villeneuve deliver another sci-fi classic from the ashes of two ruined attempts ? It remains to be seen, but at least he’s starting in the right place.

Where Is It Being Filmed?

Both Jordan and Abu Dhabi were used as locations by Villeneuve. Both have grown to be popular blockbuster sets in recent years after hosting Aladdin, Furious 7 and Star Wars.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Timothee Chalamet reminisces shooting in Jordan. “It was really surreal,” says Chalamet. “There are these Goliath landscapes, which you may imagine existing on planets in our universe, but not on Earth.”

Abu Dhabi and the Sahara then comprised fictional desert planet Arrakis’s backdrop.

Chalamet went on to share his experience on shooting under the scorching heat of Abu Dhabi in thick rubber bodysuits. “The shooting temperature was sometimes 120 degrees [48.8°C].”

“In a really grounded way, it was helpful to be in the stillsuits and to be at that level of exhaustion,”

The rest of the film was shot at Origo Film Studios in Budapest, Hungary, the same studio used for Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049.

What Happens?

Often cited as George Lucas’ inspiration for the Star Wars saga, Dune is a sci-fi epic. Amidst an intergalactic feud, the Atreides family gain control over the planet Arrakis. As noble families compete for jurisdiction, Dune follows Paul Atreides in his rebellious journey in gathering the desert’s nomadic tribes to control the planet and restore his family’s reign.

Who’s In It?

Well,  Timothee Chalamet for a start. The young Oscar nominee is no stranger to acting in book-to-film adaptations as seen in Call Me By Your Name and Little Women, but portraying Dune’s Paul Atreides marks Chalamet’s Sci-Fi debut.

Then there’s Oscar Isaac, who recently set the Internet alight with a leaked shot of him in full space gear, as Duke Leto Atreides.

The highly anticipated blockbuster also includes Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Jason Mamoa, Javier Bardem and Zendaya.

Dune might be 2020’s silver lining.

Will they squeeze the whole book into one film?

The adaption contains the first half of the book as director Denis Villeneuve told Vanity Fair that the world of Dune is “too complex” to be a single film. Warner Bros studios are taking the same approach in adapting Dune as they did with Stephen King’s IT, producing it as a two-parter.

In June 2019, a television series spinoff, Dune: The Sisterhood, was announced. The series, based on Sisterhood of Dune, is set as a prequel to the upcoming film. It will focus on the Bene Gesserit force, an all-female secretive order with superhuman abilities. Denis Villeneuve will direct the series’ pilot and serve as the executive producer alongside Frank Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert. Warner Media has yet to announce the series’ release timeline.

When is it scheduled for release?

Warner Bros originally arranged for the film’s release on November 20, 2020, but later pushed the date to December 18, 2020.

Coronavirus, don’t ruin this.