It’s been nearly a year since Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the science-fiction epic Dune was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. One of Warner Bros. Pictures’ most highly anticipated releases, the film is now set to arrive in October 2021 in both theaters and streaming on HBO Max. Most franchises of this magnitude usually aren’t standalone films, and audiences wouldn’t be wrong to wonder whether Dune will be a trilogy or at least get a sequel. The good news: Not only are there sequels hopefully to come, but the director plans to put Zendaya front and center.
Villeneuve has said he wanted Dune to be two parts. The 1965 novel the film is based on isn’t that long compared to modern standards (i.e., Game of Thrones’ doorstop-sized installments); Dune clocks in at 400 or so pages. But the story is very dense. More importantly, there’s a significant time jump about halfway through the story, during which, after a horrific massacre, the story’s hero, Paul Atreides, disappears into the desert sands of Arrakis for two years.
That break in the narrative makes the prospect of taking Dune and doing a Chapter 1/Chapter 2 style duology of films an attractive proposition. It also solves one of the story’s most prominent issues: Trying to condense all of it down into two hours and change is nearly impossible. (The famous 1984 David Lynch version, a massive box office bomb, was cut down to 137 minutes from his planned three-hour epic.)
According to Collider, Villeneuve did just that. The first film reportedly only covers the first half of the book. And he’s reportedly already hard at work on a script for a second film based on the back half of the story, which he said will put Zendaya’s character, Chani, front and center. That’s a significant change from the novel, which is, frankly, a male-centric story about fathers, sons, and a “chosen one” narrative. Re-angling the story to build up its female leads, making them equal to their male counterparts, would go a long way in modernizing the story.
But Villeneuve could see more than just two films coming out of this franchise. In an interview with CBC’s Radio Canada, the director said he always envisioned making a third movie from the novel’s direct sequel, the 1969 book, Dune Messiah.
Whether or not that’s where the story will end is still to be determined. Considering the movie’s A-list cast, hopefully audiences will respond to the prospects by checking out the first installment in droves.
Dune will premiere in theaters and stream on HBO Max on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.