io9's tagline is “We come from the future” and today we’re making good on that proclamation. We come from a future in which you’ve just seen Denis Villeneuve’s new adaptation of Dune and as the credits roll, your first thought is “When is part two coming?” (Don’t worry, no spoilers here.)
Since its inception, the director of Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 conceived his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s landmark sci-fi novel as a two-part saga. This first movie, which opens October 22, even begins with the title “Dune: Part One” to let you know this is only the beginning. So, when io9 sat down with other journalists to discuss all things Atreides, Arrakis, and more with the director, we had to ask the question everyone will be thinking after watching the film: “Just how quickly can we get part two in our eyeballs?”
“I would say that I would be fairly ready to go quite quickly now,” Villeneuve said, before clarifying further. “Quickly in [terms of] a movie of that size. You still need to make sets and costumes, we are talking about months.” Villeneuve explained that he couldn’t split Herbert’s story in two without a strong sense of where the continuation would go, so much of the heavy lifting in terms of story is already done. “When you make a movie in two parts...when you do the first part, you have to know what you’re going to do in the second part,” he said. “It has been mostly designed in a way that there’s a lot of elements that are [ready]...But if there’s enthusiasm and the movie is greenlit, sooner than later I will say that I will be ready to shoot 2022 for sure...I am ready to go and I would say that I would love to bring it to the screen as soon as possible.”
For Villeneuve though, there’s no real rush—film lives forever so he plans on taking his time with the sequel, assuming he gets to make it. “We know the first film I really had time to make sure that it was exactly the way I wanted it to be,” he said. “And I would love to have the same feeling when I make the second part. So that would be the priority. Quality will be the priority.”
With Dune still several weeks away from release, we won’t spoil exactly where or how the first film ends. But it’s not surprising to say the first film is very heavy on introducing the world of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), including planets like Arrakis, villains like the Harkonnen, and the most valuable substance in the galaxy, spice. “The tough task here was to introduce...the audience, to this world,” Villeneuve said. “To the codes, to the cultures, the different families, the different planets. Now, once this is done, it becomes an insane playground. So it will allow me to go berserk and really create.” He explained that, though he didn’t want to minimize this film, he imagines Dune Part One as an appetizer and Part Two as the main course. “As much Dune Part One was by far my most exciting project ever Dune Part Two is already getting me more even more excited,” he said.
Oh, and want to get more excited? While the director swears he’s focused solely on releasing Dune Part One and, hopefully, getting Dune Part Two made, he would love to follow that up with Herbert’s sequel, Dune Messiah. “I’m going to be very honest. I envisioned the adaptation of two books, Dune and Dune Messiah,” Villeneuve said. “I said okay, as a filmmaker [and] as a screenwriter I know how to do this. So we decided to split the first novel in two so now we are up to three movies. Those movies are very long to make. So for my mental sanity, I decided to just dream about three movies. After that, because I’m a big fan of all the novels, after that I’ll see where I am.”
“By the way, I’m not dreaming about Dune Messiah right now,” he clarified, “I’m focusing on launching Dune Part One, hoping there will be a part two, and that’s my main mission. And that’s enough. I mean, doing the first one was by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. And I think that we were able to bring it to life because me and the team just did that for two years and a half full time. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week we were dreaming about Dune Part One.”
Which brings us back to that first question. If Dune Part One is a hit and Dune Part Two is quickly greenlit, Villeneuve says he’ll be ready to shoot in 2022. And while the first film took two and a half years of nonstop work, this “berserk” sequel already has some of that legwork completed. It seems plausible Paul Atreides could, potentially, be back in theaters by 2024, if all goes to plan. Thankfully, Dune Part One is so densely packed with greatness, that should be just enough time to digest it all.
Dune opens in theaters, and on HBO Max, October 22.
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