Is There Another Dune Movie On The Way?

Frank Herbert’s Dune is widely held to be one of the most (if not *the* most) popular science-fiction novels of all-time. With a reputation like that, clearly a big screen adaptation should be a guaranteed success right? Well… not necessarily, as anyone who saw David Lynch’s 1984 film can attest. Lynch’s film starred Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart and Sting (among others), but did not perform well at the box office and received primarily negative reviews from critics. 16 years later, The Sci-Fi Channel produced a three-part TV mini-series based on the book that won 2 Emmys and went over a bit better with fans. For many this became the definitive adaptation, although there were a handful of changes made in this version as well.

Now it looks like there may be yet another Dune movie on the horizon. According to CHUD, Byron Merritt (the admin of the Dune Novel forums) has been reporting that a studio and director are close to finalizing a deal for another Dune feature film. How would he know? Well, he also just happens to be Frank Herbert’s grandson. There’s no word yet on who the interested parties are, but I sure hope it’s someone big. If they can’t surpass the first two attempts in terms of budget, effects and talent, then really, what’s the point? Personally I couldn’t get into either Lynch’s version or the mini-series, and I question whether Dune is suitable for a feature film at all. It’s just so dense and abstract at times, and there isn’t all that much action. No matter who is involved, I don’t think it can be turned into a Lord of the Rings-style blockbuster without some major alterations. What do you think… will the third time be a charm for Dune?

  • Evan

    id like to see another bigscreen version, but like you said its probably not going to have widespread appeal unless there are some major plot changes, which i do NOT want to see. I love the book and would hate to see its complex storyline ruined for the sake of ticket sales.

  • I personally loved the film dune and detested the mini series, but i as much as i would love to see a big budget dune film remade i also think it would really be unable to capture the books essence.

  • Back in the seventies there was a Dune film in the works with Jean “Moebius” Giraud and H.R. Giger doing all of the artwork and designs, but the film was scrapped because it’s budget ran out. I think if another Dune movie is on the horizon, whoever is in charge should get these two artistic geniuses back on board. They both worked on the first Alien film and I think everyone knows how spectacular that looked.

    Honestly, in the wake of film like the Lord of the Rings series, the King Kong remake, and Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, I really think that this is the perfect time to do a new Dune movie. Get a worthy director, one or two big name actors, a decent budget, and (as I mentioned above) some good sci-fi artists on this thing and I don’t see how it couldn’t at least do well as a big holiday movie.

  • huhwhat?

    “No matter who is involved…”
    :Chuck Norris

  • The Landsraad

    The primary problem which every attempt to translate Dune to the screen, both the two abortive efforts in the 70’s and the Lynch and mini series versions have encountered is that the substance and flavour of the novel is contained in it’s frequent internal monologues and the snatches of quotes from fictional in-universe sources and commentaries. Lynch tried a compromise, stripping away a few layers of plot complexity and using (pretty effectively) voice overs to try to maintain the feel of the novel, but neither he nor John Harrison succeeded in fully communicating the themes and ideas which underpinned Herbert’s seminal novel. There is action there, a powerful and committed love story, themes of isolation, redemption, passion, war, religion…in short the subject matter could make an epic big screen movie, but unless it was done without the stringent demands which would be placed on a director by any major hollywood production company, and with the money that only they could provide, it’s going to either flop at the box office or fail to resonate with the legions of dune fans, all of whom, myself included, probably have a very clear idea of what the movie should look like, as nobody can read that novel without dreaming of an unlimited budget and full casting control.

    On a side note, it would be interesting to see what Hollywood does with the novels’ portrayal of a fundamentalist nomadic warrior culture (who’s religion is essentially a transliteration of Islam), and their struggle to secure for themselves the rights to the vast natural wealth locked away in their ancestral lands in the face of opressive military control by a foreign Imperial power……..

  • The Face of Bo

    As a big fan of the SciFi Channel mini I don’t see a reason for another try at this. You have a great book that would be hard to make into marketable “Blockbuster”. And you have a great version out there to watch. How many different ways can Hollywood tell the same story before it is totally butchered?

  • Mike

    Lynchs Movie was not true to the book, but it did had Mr. Herbert Approval, and the customs and back ground did transport one to that universe… The plot.. well thats another story…But not too shabby!

    The Miniseries were better adaptation of tbe book, but the customs and settings were poor… cheesy in my opinion.

    Should there be another Dune movie… Well… frankly…I would like so…. CHAPTERHOUSE WILL BE A GREAT START!

  • Giselle Maja

    I have just finished reading the first book of Dune and I work as a screenplay writer here in my country (Mexico). Sincerely, I think Dune is an adaptable novel, but some changes must be made. Film and literature have different needs, so yes, it’s too much conversation and monologues for film.
    But that doesn’t mean you cannot make a good adaptation. It needs more action, but you can have wonderful action without loosing its essence. Of course, fans of the novel must understand film cannot be as deep and extensive. Maybe that’s the problem: fans want to see a precise translation, but that’s impossible. Even Lord of the Rings was adapted and much of the explanations had to be cut.

  • Reed Farrington

    Hi Giselle, I think your comment reflects what most creative people in the film industry believe.

    I had read Dune and all of its sequels up to the release of David Lynch’s Dune, and I was disappointed in his film. I think the film tried to cover too much of the book, and lacked the character development to make me empathize with Paul.

    I saw the first Dune television mini-series, and was struck by how “similar” it was to David Lynch’s film. But even with the extended time available for the mini-series, I still didn’t connect to the characters the same way I did when I read the book.

    For some reason, I think that the most successful films adapted from books have been “unfaithful” adaptations. But how many films have been shot using the exact dialog from a book, and with the same settings? How did filmmakers decide this was unrealistic? Based on how long the running time of a film would be?

    I suppose with everyone having his or her own opinion of what a good film is, any debate on the subject of turning books into film would be academic.

    BTW, I don’t understand how “unlimited budget and full casting control” can be regarded as a template for making a good movie. :-)

  • Cris

    I think that for a lot of the DUNE fans, many of them began with a love for the books. These fans know and appreciate the complexity of FH’s stories and rightfully recognize that his point of view can never really be completely transferred from pages to the big screen.

    Having said that, I’m a young DUNE fan but my admiration for it didn’t start with the books. I first saw the miniseries and was immediately drawn to the story. For me, I felt the mystique and intrigue behind the characters and the “plots within plots.” I saw the coolness factor with the Bene Gesserit… almost a mysteriously manipulative sect of Jedi (and they were all females… extra cool).

    My point is that the miniseries, regardless of how much of the depth of the story was left out/changed… still managed to spark my interest and allow me to understand even a fraction of the “spirit” of the books. This in turn made discovering the books that much of a greater experience. So I think that with careful planning and storytelling… a big screen, big budget version of the first (or first two) books would make great strides in introducing new generations to Frank Herbert’s unrivaled stories. Sure, minor changes might need to be made to compensate today’s mostly a.d.d. target demographic… but for the few that become instantaneously hooked by the soul of the story, they’ll go on to discover the books like the rest of us.

  • glenn

    I think the only way to explore dune would be to actually make into a series like “Star Trek”, I have read most of the books and it has the potential to be a good sci-fi series with atleast a few years worth of material if they stay true to the books.