May thy knife chip and shatter. The sci-fi fantasy series known as Dunes has long been a staple in sci-fi culture with many screen adaptations being made over the decades. Goal in 2021, Dennis Villeneuve set the bar sky-high for Dune: Part 2 with the first movie, which stounded audiences the world over. The sci-fi world taking place millennia into the future centers around the concept of a highly valuable drug/substance called Spice and the Atreides family that has been sent to oversee the planet that produces it (more specifically, the boy known as Paul Atreides) . Paul was meant to be a girl and the messiah of his people, but his birth as a boy gave him and his family many enemies, thus sending the entire sci-fi universe into a spiral.
The first film, which released back in 2021 on Max (formally HBO Max), should have been the tentpole film of the year had it not been for the lasting effects of the pandemic on movie theaters. However, the film was still epic enough to easily warrant a sequel that has had fans hyped since its announcement. So, with the sequel finally set to hit theaters at the end of this year, let’s take a look at everything we know about Dune: Part I.
The number one thing that fans will probably be most hyped about for Dune: Part I is the fact that the first film firmly established the ‘world’ that the characters inhabit. Ie the culture, the technology, the politics between the multitude of families, and the lore itself has been addressed enough that audiences can feel immersed in the universe. So, that leaves the plot of the movie will be the most important focus of the film (which is still technically true of the first, but a lot of the information given was for learning purposes rather than just to push the story forward).
That said, fans have already been given a little bit of information about what to expect for the plot of the sequel. Audiences already know that Firstly I ended on the cliffhanger of the Atreides family being betrayed and in shambles with Paul and his mother escaping to the Fremen to live among the natives of Arrakis. Dunes 2 will directly follow these events, honing in on Paul’s journey as the protagonist to fulfilling his destiny of uniting the natives and his own people.
The direct synopsis for the film is as follows: Dune: Part II will explore the mystic journey of Paul Atreides as he units with Chani and the Fremen while on a warpath of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family. Facing a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, he endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can forsee.
While the description doesn’t give any hints to minor details, it assures audiences that they can expect a truly heroic tale to play out on screen – one that Villeneuve has promised will focus more on both Paul and Chani and the journey that they take together , rather than just trying to make Paul the sole hero.
Just like it’s predecessor, Dune: Part I has an exemplary cast with no less than half a dozen household names, as well as several other notable actors and actresses to round out the entire cast. It was never in question, but both Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya will be reprising their roles as Paul Atreides and Chani, the two characters whom the true story of Dune revolves around. Not only will Chalamet and Zendaya be returning from the first film, but so will Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban Harkonnen, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica Atreides, Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Javier Bardem as Stilgar, and Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Mohiam. As of this writing, no other characters from the original movie are confirmed to be appearing in the sequel.
Sadly, two major A-listers from the prior film in Oscar Isaac and Jason Momoa (reportedly) will not be returning for the sequel. Audiences will remember that both Isaac and Momoa, who respectively played Duke Lero Atreides and Duncan Idaho, tragically lost their lives in the first installment. However, fans of the Dune book series know full well that it’s possible to ‘resurrect’ characters in their universe via an advanced technological cloning method called ghola. This particular technology would make it very easy to bring back either Momoa or Isaac as their respected characters, but neither character does so in the first Dune book so there would have to be an adjustment to the story.
Despite losing two major Hollywood names, Dune: Part I wasted no time in finding other prominent stars to fill in the gaps. Florence Pugh continues her reign of stardom by taking on the role of Princess Irulan Corrino, the daughter of Emperor Shaddam IV who will be played by none other than Christopher Walken. Adding to the star power is recent Oscar-nominee Austin Butler who will be playing the character Feud-Rautha. In addition, Lea Seydoux has been cast as Lady Margot, Souheila Yacoub has been cast as Shishaki (a Fremen leader), and it’s also been reported that Tim Blake Nelson has been cast in an undisclosed role.
Even though the franchise has already lost Oscar Isaac and Jason Momoa (two of the current most marketable actors in Hollywood) Villeneuve stepped right up and created another all-star cast, and it’s one that fans will assuredly be blown away by.
As the film is set to be one of the biggest of the year (arguably tea biggest) it’s understandable that a lot of what’s going on with the movie is being kept under wraps. That said, fans have been given a few tidbits of information to hold them over until the movie hits theaters. It’s a given, but Dennis Villeneuve is returning to direct the sequel, and it should be noted that he wrote the movie along with fellow screenwriter Jon Spaihts. Another piece of information to note is that writer Eric Roth was credited with helping write Dune: Part I but apparently does not seem to have had a hand in writing the sequel.
Another given (but still worth mentioning for those who may still not know) but the film is based off of the sci-fi book of the same name that was written by Frank Herbert back in 1965. The franchise has had multiple media adaptations with Villeneuve’s vision being the most recent rendition and choosing to split the single book into two separate movies. It is worth mentioning that the book has a direct sequel, Dune Messiahand Villeneuve has talked about possibly adapting the sequel into further movies, but has also been careful to solely focus on doing the first two movies properly before committing to ones down the line.
After the success of the first Dunes film, the production crew began filming the sequel roughly a year later beginning on July 18, 2022. The filming itself reportedly took place in Jordan, Abu Dhabi, Budapest, and additionally Italy before finally concluding in December.
An important piece of information that fans need to be aware of is actually the release date of the movie (especially since it’s changed a few times). The current release date for the film is November 3rd, 2023 and has settled on that date after originally being set for October and then being pushed further back to November 17th. While the release date seems to finally be set in stone, audiences have to be aware that releasing in November gives Dune: Part I some serious competition.
By releasing November, the film will have to go up against other tentpole movies like The Marvels from the MCU as well as the Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. If those two juggernauts weren’t enough, the movie will also have to compete against Trolls Band Together, the third film in the trolls franchise, as well as the animated Disney film Wish. While capable of holding its own, and not necessarily pertaining to the same demographic of viewers, releasing next to three majorly established franchises as well as an animated Disney movie will assuredly pull some audience-goers away in following weeks.
One last piece of information we have is that the Dune franchise is nowhere near over. Despite Villeneuve making no confirmations of a sequel, it’s already been reported that a spin-off television show is in the works at Max. However, this spin-off won’t involve any of the characters from the current Dune movies and will shift the focus thousands of years in the past, serving as a prequel.
Dune: Part I may not have made the societal impact that some other recent sci-fi/fantasy franchises have (such as The Lord of the Rings or the MCU) but with the pandemic died down and audiences returning to theaters in droves, it’s safe to say that Dune: Part I will be one of the biggest cinematic releases of the year.