The rumors are true: “Arrival” and “Sicario” director Denis Villeneuve will direct Legendary Pictures’ adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, “Dune,” often touted as the best-selling science fiction novel in history. The news was confirmed in the wee hours of Wednesday morning in a tweet by Brian Herbert, son of Frank. The Oscar-nominated director’s name had been floating around the project since last December.
It’s official — Legendary Pictures has signed the very talented Denis Villeneuve to direct the exciting new DUNE series film project.
— Brian Herbert (@DuneAuthor) February 1, 2017
The “Dune” franchise has seen its fair share of storied film adaptations. The first time a filmmaker attempted a “Dune” adaptation was in 1973, when eccentric Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky notoriously spent $2 million in pre-production on the 14-hour project. None other than Salavador Dalí and Orson Welles were attached, with music by Pink Floyd, but the film never came to fruition. The epic unrealized project was the subject of Frank Pavich’s documentary, “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” which played the Cannes Film Festival in 2014.
In 1984, David Lynch successfully directed a “Dune” film for Universal Pictures, starring Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides. A critical and box-office failure, Lynch distanced himself from the project after release, citing artistic differences with Universal Pictures. In some cuts, Lynch’s name has been replaced in the credits with the name Alan Smithee, a pseudonym once used by directors who wished to disown a project.
Hopefully Villeneuve, who is nominated for an Academy Award this year for directing “Arrival,” will be given full autonomy when he tries his hand at this fabled project.