It’s no surprise: All signs were pointing to a “Dune” sequel by the time Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel opened in U.S. theaters (Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff all but confirmed a follow-up movie on October 21, the day before the film’s opening). On October 26, came official confirmation from Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. that “Dune: Part Two” was officially a go.
As Villeneuve himself announced in a statement: “I just received news from Legendary that we are officially moving forward with ‘Dune: Part Two.’ It was a dream of mine to adapt Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ and I have the fans, the cast, and crew, Legendary and Warner Bros. to thank for supporting this dream. This is only the beginning.”
So where does the “Dune” franchise go from here? Below, IndieWire has rounded up all of the major details we know about “Dune: Part Two” right now. The rundown below will be updated as more news breaks related to the “Dune” sequel are released.
Zack Sharf contributed to this story.
Costume Designer Jacqueline West Teases Austin Butler Is ‘Fabulous’ in Sequel
“Dune” costume designer Jacqueline West revealed that the “Part Two” film will dive deeper into the different sci-fi worlds in the epic universe.
“We see what the emperor’s world looks like. We go to his planet. We spend a lot of time on Giedi Prime, the Harkonnen planet. We spend a lot of time in Stellan Skarsgård’s [Vladimir Harkonnen] world,” West told Deadline. “Feyd-Rautha [Harkonnen] also comes into this one, brilliantly played by Austin Butler, Elvis. He is pretty fabulous in it.”
West continued, “We made a lot of costumes. All the worlds get expanded. It was about creating three separate different-looking worlds and also revisiting the Bene Gesserits, the age-old ones with these costumes that almost look like Egyptian mummies. I think it’s visually stunning, the sets, the cinematography and the concepts.”
Director Villeneuve also told West that “Dune” should not “look like a videogame” visually or have any “sci-fi” components.
“He said, ‘I want you because I do not want it to look like sci-fi. I want it to be classical. I don’t want it to look like a video game,'” West recalled.
Dave Bautista Teases “Amped-Up” Part Two
Dave Bautista will reprise his role Glossu “Beast” Rabban, one of the villains in the House of Harkonnen, for the second installment. In a recent Collider chat, he teased his expanded role in the new film and a more “amped-up” movie in general:
“You’ve heard me talk about the first film, we’ve talked about the first film. It was that times 100 because it was Rabban amped-up, and my part is much bigger on this. I got to spend much more time with Denny, which I crave for because I love working with Denny. And Denny, again, he just brings out the best in me and this was such an amazing experience. Before I left the film—[we were] talking about something else and I’m not gonna say until it actually happens, but he knows that my dream is to work with him as a number one because I really think that Denny will show me how good I can be.”
Tim Blake Nelson Announced as Part of Cast
Despite “Dune: Part Two” having already wrapped filming, actor Tim Blake Nelson was confirmed to be part of the large ensemble cast in January 2023. While Nelson’s character is being kept under wraps, Nelson was most recently seen in “Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities” and collaborated with director Guillermo del Toro for stop-motion animated Netflix film “Pinocchio.”
Official Synopsis Teases a Choice Between Love and Death
The official synopsis from Warner Bros. and Legendary reads: “This follow-up film will explore the mythic journey of Paul Atreides as he unites with Chani and the Fremen while on a warpath of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family. Facing a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, he endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can foresee.”
Production Is Officially Underway
Warner Bros. revealed on Monday, July 18 that production on “Dune: Part Two” is officially underway. The movie is shooting in Budapest, Hungary, where “Part One” was shot as well. The shoot will next head to Italy.
Souheila Yacoub Joins the Cast
Souheila Yacoub is set to play Shishakli, a Squad leader of Fedaykin. Deadline first reported the casting news. Yacoub was most recently seen in Gaspar Noé’s “Climax” and has also starred in Cannes Film Festival releases “De Bas Etages” and Anaïs Volpé’s “The Braves.” She additionally appeared in “The Salt of Tears” and drama series “Les Sauvages” and “No Man’s Land.”
Léa Seydoux Is Lady Margot
Hot off acclaim for Cannes films “One Fine Morning” and “Crimes of the Future,” Léa Seydoux is set to play Lady Margot in the upcoming “Dune” sequel for Legendary. In the original novel by Frank Herbert, Lady Margot Fenring serves the Sisterhood despite falling under the spell of the House Corrino.
Christopher Walken Is the Emperor
Hot off his run on Apple TV+’s “Severance,” Academy Award winner Christopher Walken is joining the cast of Warner Bros. and Legendary’s sequel as the Emperor Shaddam IV. He plays the ruler of the universe that initially sent the Atreides family to Arrakis to their peril. Jose Ferrer played the role in David Lynch’s 1984 movie.
“Dune” Prequel Series Taps “Chernobyl” Director Johan Renck
Branching off from the films, the “Dune” prequel series at HBO Max has tapped Emmy-winning “Chernobyl” director Johan Renck to direct the first two episodes. Denis Villeneuve was previously tapped to direct the pilot, but he’s at work on “Part Two.” The show is set 10,000 years before the events of “Dune” and centers on the Harkonnen Sisters as they defend the future of humankind.
“Dune Part 2” Will Feature More IMAX Footage
Denis Villeneuve confirmed the sequel will “definitely” also use IMAX. “[Cinematographer] Greig Fraser and I, we fell in love with this format, and definitely there be — even probably more — IMAX footage in this movie. Definitely,” Villeneuve told Collider.
Fraser also collaborated with Matt Reeves on “The Batman” and has worked on Disney+’s “The Mandalorian.”
The “Dune 2” Script Will “Always Be a Work in Progress”
Denis Villeneuve told Collider in March 2022 that while the sequel script is “finished mostly,” it will “always be a work in progress” up until the film’s final cut. Plus, Villeneuve noted some “premises” in the first film will have to be “ignored” for the next installment. “I think I would say there’s more pressure with the second one in some ways,” the director summed up.
Austin Butler Is Confirmed to Play Feyd-Rautha
Hot off of “Elvis,” Austin Butler is making his way to “Dune: Part II.” The “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” alum is confirmed to play Feyd-Rautha, the evil nephew of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) and the heir to the Harkonnen empire.
Florence Pugh Reportedly Joins the Cast
Florence Pugh might be joining the “Dune” sequel, as The Hollywood Reporter stated. The “Black Widow” alum is in talks to star as Princess Irulan.
Denis Villeneuve Says Shooting Will Start by “End of the Summer” 2022
Denis Villeneuve revealed where things stand with “Dune: Part Two” and teased plot details for the sequel, which is slated to start production “by the end of the summer” in 2022.
“I will say it is mostly designed,” Villeneuve said to Empire of the next installment starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, and Stellan Skarsgård. “The thing that helps us right now is that it’s the first time I’ve revisited a universe. So I’m working with the same crew, everybody knows what to do, we know what it will look like. The movie will be more challenging, but we know where we are stepping. And the screenplay is written. So I feel confident.”
Villeneuve added, “Frankly, the only big unknown for me right now is the pandemic.”
Expect a Lot More House of Harkonnen
Stellan Skarsgård practically stole the “Dune Part One” show with his slimy Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, mounting a coup against the House of Atreides from his inky black lair. As “Part One” gave us plenty of Atreides to chew on, Villeneuve said we should expect to see a lot more of the House of Harkonnen this time around.
“In the second one, I want to have more flexibility, and it will be possible to go a little bit deeper into some of these details,” Villeneuve said in a recent interview.
Some of those details include expanding on the Harkonnen clan, namely villain Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, played by Skarsgård, and his nephew, Glossu Rabban, portrayed by Bautista.
“It’s like a chess game,” Villeneuve continued. “Some new characters will be introduced in the second part, and a decision I made very early on was that this first part would be more about Paul Atreides and the Bene Gesserit, and his experience of being in contact for the first time with a different culture. Second part, there will be much more Harkonnen stuff.”
Denis Villenueve Always Planned a Two-Part Movie
Denis Villeneuve has said from the start that he only signed on to direct “Dune” for Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. because they agreed to let him split Frank Herbert’s novel into two movies. The director originally wanted to film both “Dune” films back-to-back, but studio fears over the financial risks of the adaptation resulted in the wait and see approach. If the first “Dune” movie performed at the box office and on HBO Max, Villeneuve would get the chance to make his intended second part.
Now we know “Dune: Part Two” is official. Before the film’s global rollout, Villeneuve was feeling positive about getting the chance to see his two-part vision through the finish line.
“We have been hearing in the past few decades that it’s not possible to adapt this book, and that it’s an impossible task. I think that in the back of the mind of the studio, it’s still the same!” Villeneuve told Total Film in August 2021. “The first thing was to prove that there was a beautiful, popular movie that can exist, and I think that I proved that — everybody at Warner Bros and Legendary, they are 100 percent behind the project. They feel that it would need a really bad outcome at the box office to not have a ‘Dune: Part Two,’ because they love the movie. They are proud of the movie, so they want the movie to move forward. And they still did half of it. So, you know, I’m very optimistic.”
Even Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff was bullish on the prospects for a second “Dune” movie before the first opened. “Will we have a sequel to ‘Dune’? If you watch the movie you see how it ends,” Sarnoff said the day before the “Dune” U.S. theatrical release started in the U.S. “I think you pretty much know the answer to that.”
“Dune: Part Two” Is Getting an Exclusive Theatrical Release
“Dune: Part Two” will open in theaters October 20, 2023 from Warner Bros. The date puts the sequel’s opening nearly two years to the day of “Part One” opening on October 22, 2021. Legendary and Warner Bros. have agreed to give “Dune: Part Two” an exclusive theatrical release, although the exact theatrical window has yet to be confirmed (the industry norm is quickly becoming 45 days).
The move to an exclusive theatrical release makes sense, as Denis Villeneuve was against putting the first “Dune” film on HBO Max at the same time it was being released in theaters.
Zendaya Becomes the Female Protagonist of the Story
Warner Bros. made Zendaya a focal point of the “Dune” marketing campaign, but it was a bait-and-switch method, as the Emmy winner only appeared in the movie for a total of 7 minutes. Zendaya stars in the film as Chani, the Fremen warrior who is the love interest of Paul Atreides. Chani is mostly seen in Paul’s many dream sequences in the first “Dune,” but her role will be significantly expanded for the sequel.
“When I did the casting for Chani’s character, I met a lot of actresses,” Villeneuve told La Repubblica. “Zendaya wanted to audition and today, after shooting the film and seeing what a wonderful actress she is, I’m sorry I auditioned her. It was just because I didn’t know her. However that day, she impressed me and when she left the studio I knew that Chani was her, the young desert tiger. I am honored to present two such explosive talents on screen [Chalamet and Zendaya] and I can’t wait to shoot the second part of ‘Dune’ to get them back together. Knowing that in the next chapter Zendaya will be the [female] protagonist of the story.”
Where Does the Story Go from Here?
“Dune: Part One” ends with Paul officially joining the Fremen and planning to bring peace to Arrakis. The film cuts to black as Paul and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) travel with the Fremen to their home city. Paul spots one Fremen member riding a sandworm. Fans can definitely expect to see Chalamet riding a sandworm in “Dune: Part Two,” but what else is in store? A lot, actually.
If some viewers thought “Dune: Part One” was plot-heavy, then wait until they realize all the plot still to come in “Dune: Part Two.” The main narrative of “Part Two” will track Paul’s rise to power among the Fremen and the resulting rebellion against Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. The latter character, mentioned only in name in “Part One,” will be perhaps the biggest new role in “Part Two.”
Additional new characters include Princess Irulan, the Emperor’s eldest teen daughter who becomes Paul’s wife for political reasons, and Alia Atreides, the daughter of Lady Jessica and the late Duke Leto. The first “Dune” movie left out many of the book’s biggest twists, including Lady Jessica’s parentage, but we’ll keep those spoilers hidden for now. Suffice to say, there are many shocks to come in “Dune: Part Two.”
Why Denis Villeneuve Split “Dune” Where He Did
Denis Villeneuve ended his first “Dune” movie at the moment Paul is accepted into the Fremen and journeys with them to their home city in Arrakis. “Frankly, if I had to do it again, it’s exactly where I will stop the movie,” he told IndieWire about splitting the book where he did. “If you look at Paul’s trajectory, which is a boy that is trying to find his place in the world and at the end becomes finally an adult by being able to step in front, it’s a very important moment in a young man’s life to stake his ground. Paul’s arc is complete for that first part. Now the fact that people are coming out saying, ‘I wanted more,’ is a total victory!”
Which Cast Members Will Return?
Timothée Chalamet will be back as Paul Atreides, as will Zendaya as his Fremen love interest Chani. The sequel will include a lot more of the Fremen, which means Javier Bardem will have a lot more to do as the group’s leader. The first “Dune” movie ended with Paul and his mother, Lady Jessica, venturing to the Fremen city along with the eponymous Arrakis natives. So yes, Rebecca Ferguson will be back as the Bene Gesserit member (who is still pregnant come the end of the first movie). Stellan Skarsgård should be returning as well as the villainous Baron Harkonnen (it’s time to break out the 20-pound body suit again), as should Dave Bautista as the Baron’s sadistic henchman Glossu Rabban. Charlotte Rampling’s character, the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother named Gaius Helen Mohiam, is still alive in the world and should appear in the next film as the Emperor will be introduced in the flesh and she is his Truthsayer.
As for Jasom Momoa, Josh Brolin, and Stephen McKinley Henderson, their reappearances will depend on how faithful Villeneuve remains to Herbert’s novel. Brolin’s weapons master Gurney Halleck and Henderson’s Thufir Hawat were last seen on Arrakis as it was being attacked by the Harkonnen forces. Both characters survive the attack in the book, so expect to see the actors again in “Dune: Part Two.”
As for Momoa’s Duncan Idaho, viewers hear Lady Jessica say “he’s gone” after Duncan stays behind to fight off Sardaukar troops so that Paul and Jessica can escape. Does that mean Duncan is dead? Maybe not, as Momoa told IndieWire he’s ready to return for “Part Two.”
The Cast Was Always Ready to Come Back
For what it’s worth, Villeneuve’s “Dune” cast spent a lot of the promotional tour touring their desite to return for a second movie. As Rebecca Ferguson told IndieWire, “It would feel really sad and empty and odd to leave the character [Lady Jessica] where she is, at least from my aspect. I know what’s to come. I know the continuation of this story. I know how much more there is in this world. It’s like Denis has said, we’ve been able to introduce you to the characters and their worlds, let’s go and ride the waves. Now we can start living it.”
“There’s so much story left to be told. I would love to spend more time with these characters,” Zendaya told Entertainment Weekly. “I learned so much as an actress and became better just from that experience of being around Denis, watching him interact with his actors and run sets, and then seeing the way Javier works too. I also became wonderful friends with Timothée, who’s now like my family I would say. We talk all the time about how fun it’s gonna be if we get to do it. Selfishly, I want to do [a second film] to have fun and spend time with my friend.”
What the Studios Have to Say about the Sequel
Here’s the official statement from Lionsgate on the next “Dune” movie: “Legendary is pleased to officially move forward with ‘Dune: Part Two’…once again based on the amazing books written by Frank Herbert. We would not have gotten to this point without the extraordinary vision of Denis and the amazing work of his talented crew, the writers, our stellar cast, our partners at Warner Bros., and of course the fans! Here’s to more ‘Dune.’”
Toby Emmerich, Chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures, added in his own statement: “Denis Villeneuve has crafted a film that is both visually extraordinary and emotionally transporting, as evidenced by its global success both critically and at the box office. We are thrilled to continue on this journey with Denis and his cast and crew, and our partners at Legendary, and can’t wait to bring the next chapter of this epic tale to theaters in October 2023.”
It Might Not Be the Last “Dune” Movie
While Denis Villeneuve always envisioned adapting Frank Herbert’s novel into a two-part movie, he has already gone on record expressing interest in helming a “Dune” movie trilogy by also adapting Herbert’s 1969 sequel novel, “Dune Messiah,” into a third film.
As the director said before the first film’s U.S. release, “There is ‘Dune’s second book, ‘The Messiah of Dune,’ which could make an extraordinary film. I always saw that there could be a trilogy; after that, we’ll see. It’s years of work; I can’t think of going further than that.”
“Dune: Part Two” Release Date Gets Pushed Back
Originally slated for an October 20, 2023 release, “Dune: Part Two” will now debut in theaters November 17, 2023, as Deadline first reported. Production is still on track to start in fall 2022 in Budapest.
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