HBO Max’s return to Arrakis is taking a bit of a setback. The “Dune” prequel series has lost both its director and one of its stars, IndieWire has confirmed. This news does not in any way affect the release of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” this fall.
Johan Renck, who was set to direct the first two episodes of the show, and Shirley Henderson, who was set to play one of the leads, have both exited the series following the beginning of production in November. Production on the series, currently under the working title “Dune: The Sisterhood,” has reportedly been put on hold until replacements for both are found. A statement from HBO Max attributed the change to an “effort to create the best series possible.”
“As ‘Dune: The Sisterhood’ has entered a pre-scheduled hiatus, there are some creative changes being made to the production in an effort to create the best series possible and stay true to the source material,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement. “Johan Renck has completed his work on the series and a new director will be brought on; through mutual agreement, Johan is moving on to pursue other projects. Additionally, Shirley Henderson will be exiting the series and will no longer be playing Tula Harkonnen.”
This isn’t the first major change to the sci-fi program’s creative team; Diane Ademu-John, who wrote the pilot script, stepped down as co-showrunner prior to production, although Alison Schapker remains on deck as the show’s sole showrunner and Ademu-John will still executive produce. The series was first ordered to series by HBO Max in June 2019, with Denis Villeneuve, the director of 2021’s “Dune” and its upcoming sequel, attached to direct the first episode. The French-Canadian filmmaker left the project several months later, though he still remains attached as executive producer. In addition, Jon Spaihts and Dana Calvo were attached to co-showrun the series at several points before exiting the project.
“The Sisterhood” is a prequel to Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel “Dune,” and is set 10,000 years before the events depicted in the initial 2021 film. It follows the Harkonnen Sisters, a clan that battles forces threatening the future of mankind, and the establishment of the fabled sect known as the Bene Gesserit. In addition to Henderson, Emily Watson, Indira Varma, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Shalom Brune Franklin, Faoileann Cunningham, Aoife Hinds, Chloe Lea, Travis Fimmel, Mark Strong, Jade Anouka, and Chris Mason also star.
Meanwhile, Villeneuve’s return trip to “Dune” is going much more smoothly; “Part Two” of his adaptation will arrive in theaters this November, with Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, and Javier Bardem being joined by newcomers Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux, and Tim Blake Nelson.
Deadline was the first to report the creative team shake-up on the “Dune” prequel series.
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