Dune is a 2021 American epic science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve with a screenplay by Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts and Villeneuve. It is the first of a planned two-part adaptation of the 1965 novel of the same name by Frank Herbert, and will cover roughly the first half of the book. The film stars an ensemble cast including Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem.
Dune was released in the United States in IMAX and 3D on October 22, 2021 by Warner Bros. Pictures, with a simultaneous release on HBO Max. A sequel, Dune: Part Two, is set for release in 2023.
In the far future of humanity, Duke Leto Atreides accepts stewardship of the dangerous desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the most valuable substance in the universe, "the spice", a drug which extends human life and provides accelerated levels of thought. Though Leto knows the opportunity is an intricate trap set by his enemies, the Harkonnens, he takes his Bene Gesserit concubine Lady Jessica, young son and heir Paul, and most trusted advisers to Arrakis, also known as Dune. Leto takes control of the spice mining operation, which is made perilous by the presence of giant sandworms. A bitter betrayal leads Paul and Jessica to the Fremen, natives of Arrakis who live in the deep desert.
- Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides
- Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica
- Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides
- Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck
- Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
- Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban
- Zendaya as Chani
- David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries
- Stephen McKinley Henderson
- Charlotte Rampling as Gaius Helen Mohiam
- Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho
- Javier Bardem as Stilgar
- Chang Chen as Dr Wellington Yueh
Shortly after publication in 1965, Dune was identified for potential film prospects, and the rights to adapt the novel to film have been held by several producers since 1971. Multiple attempts to make such a film have been made, and it is considered to be a difficult work to adapt to the screen owing to its breadth of content. Famously, filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky had acquired the rights in the 1970s to make an extravagant ten-hour adaptation of the book, but the project fell apart. The effort to make the film was later documented in the documentary film Jodorowsky's Dune released in 2013. There have been two separate live-action adaptations released prior to this film: 1984's Dune produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis and directed by David Lynch, and a 2000 miniseries on the Sci Fi Channel, which was produced by Richard P. Rubinstein, who held the Dune film rights since 1996.
In 2008, Paramount Pictures announced that they had a new feature film adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune in development with Peter Berg set to direct. Berg left the project in October 2009, with director Pierre Morel brought on to direct in January 2010, before Paramount dropped the project in March 2011 as they could not come to key agreements with their rights expiring back to Rubinstein.
On November 21, 2016, it was announced that Legendary Pictures had acquired the film and TV rights for Dune. In December 2016, Variety reported that director Denis Villeneuve was in talks with the studio to direct the film. In September 2016, Villeneuve expressed his interest in the project, saying that "a longstanding dream of mine is to adapt Dune, but it's a long process to get the rights, and I don't think I will succeed." Villeneuve said that he felt he was not ready to direct a Dune movie until he had completed projects like Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, and that with his background in science fiction films, "Dune is my world." By February 2017, Brian Herbert, son of Frank and author of later books in the Dune series, confirmed that Villeneuve would be directing the project.
John Nelson was hired as the visual effects supervisor for the film in July 2018, but has since left the project. It was announced in December 2018 that cinematographer Roger Deakins, who was anticipated to reunite with Villeneuve on the film, was not working on Dune and that Greig Fraser was coming onto the project as director of photography. In January 2019, Joe Walker was confirmed to be serving as the film's editor. Other crew include: Brad Riker as supervising art director; Patrice Vermette as production designer; Paul Lambert as visual effects supervisors; Gerd Nefzer as special effects supervisor; and Thomas Struthers as stunt coordinator. Dune will be produced by Villeneuve, Mary Parent, and Cale Boyter, with Tanya Lapointe, Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt, Kim Herbert, Thomas Tull, Jon Spaihts, Richard P. Rubinstein, John Harrison and Herbert W. Gain serving as executive producers and Kevin J. Anderson as creative consultant. Game of Thrones language creator David Peterson was confirmed to be developing languages for the film in April 2019.
In March 2018, Villeneuve stated that his goal was to adapt the novel into a two-part film series. Villeneuve ultimately secured a two-movie deal with Warner Bros. Pictures, in the same style as the two-part adaptation of Stephen King's It in 2017 and in 2019. He stated that "I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie" as Dune was "too complex" with "power in details" that a single film would fail to capture. However, all subsequent dealings were to secure the production of the first film, and new production deals will need to be made to start production for the second film.
Eric Roth was hired to co-write the screenplay in April, and Jon Spaihts was later confirmed to be co-writing the script alongside Roth and Villeneuve. Villeneuve said in May 2018 that the first draft of the script had been finished. Brian Herbert confirmed by July 2018 that the latest draft of the screenplay covered "approximately half of the novel Dune." Legendary CEO Joshua Grode confirmed in April 2019 that they plan to make a sequel, adding that "there's a logical place to stop the [first] movie before the book is over." In November 2019, Spaihts stepped down as showrunner on the Dune: The Sisterhood TV prequel series to focus on the second film.
While Villeneuve had seen Lynch's adaptation of Dune and he respected both Lynch and the film, he does not expect to build upon any elements from that, saying that "I'm going back to the book, and going to the images that came out when I read it" when he was a teenager. Villeneuve said of when he had first seen Lynch's adaption that "there are parts that I love and other elements that I am less comfortable with. So it's like, I remember being half-satisfied", and that there was "still a movie that needs to be made about that book, just a different sensibility." Further, Villeneuve does not plan to incorporate concepts that Jodorowsky had laid out for his attempt for a Dune film in the mid-1970s, as Villeneuve stated that "Jodorowsky is a very unique visionary. He has a very strong, unique vision. I am a total different human being. It would be very presumptuous and arrogant for me to try".
In adapting the book written in the 1960s for the 21st century, Villeneuve wanted to reflect on realities that have happened related to overexploitation of the Earth, and considered his screenplay "a coming-of-age story, but also a call for action for the youth". Other changes included altering some of the arcs of the female characters in the book. According to Rebecca Ferguson, who was cast as Lady Jessica, "Denis was very respectful of Frank’s work in the book, [but] the quality of the arcs for [many] of the women have been brought up to a new level. There were some shifts he did, and they are beautifully portrayed now." Lady Jessica was given an expanded role as a soldier as well as being part of the Bene Gesserit, which the studio labeled as a "warrior priestess", comparing to the joking label of "space nun" that Villeneuve felt the book gave across. Dr. Liet Kynes, the ecologist on Arrakis who is male in the novel, was also given to a female lead Sharon Duncan-Brewster to help expand the cast diversity. Villeneuve also wanted to move the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from being a caricature as he was presented in the novel to a more complex antagonist.
In July 2018, it was reported that Timothée Chalamet had entered final negotiations to play the lead in the film, Paul Atreides. In September 2018, Rebecca Ferguson entered negotiations to join the film to play Atreides' mother, Lady Jessica. She confirmed her casting in January 2019.
In January 2019, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, Oscar Isaac, and Zendaya joined the cast. In February 2019, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, and David Dastmalchian were cast. Stephen McKinley Henderson joined in March, with Chang Chen entering negotiations.
In July 2019, TheMix.net reported that the film would "gender swap" the character Liet-Kynes by casting Sharon Duncan-Brewster in the role. Duncan-Brewster's casting was confirmed in April 2020. According to Duncan-Brewster, Villeneuve felt it was necessary to capture the essence of the character from the book, but was not necessary to remain consistent with all other facets, and thus opted for this change.
Filming began on March 18, 2019, at the Origo Film Studios in Budapest, Hungary, and also took place in Wadi Rum in Jordan. The first part of the movie, which takes place on the planet Caladan, was filmed in Stadlandet in Norway. The movie was also filmed in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which formed a key backdrop of the planet Arrakis. Primary filming was completed in July 2019. Additional filming took place in Budapest in August 2020 but is not expected to alter the release date of the film. The film is shot in the IMAX format with an IMAX-certified Arri Alexa LF camera and an IMAX-certified Alexa Mini LF prototype, equipped with Panavision's large-format lenses in the Ultra Vista and H-series line-up.
Hans Zimmer affirmed he would be scoring Dune near the start of the film's production in March 2019. Zimmer had previously worked with Villeneuve on Blade Runner 2049. At the time, Zimmer had been approached by Christopher Nolan for composing on his then upcoming film Tenet, but Zimmer opted for Dune as he stated he has a personal love for the book.
For the first Dune trailer, Zimmer supervised a 32-person choir via FaceTime (necessitated by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions) for the recording of a cover of Pink Floyd's song "Eclipse". Choir members gathered in groups of four over eight separate sessions in Santa Monica at Zimmer's Remote Control studio while Zimmer conducted from home.
Dune was originally scheduled to be released on November 20, 2020, but was pushed back to December 18, 2020. The film was then delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this time to October 1, 2021, taking over the release date slot of The Batman, where it will be theatrically released in 3D. In late June 2021, Warner Bros. announced that it was delaying the release even further to October 22, 2021 to avoid competition with No Time to Die.
Warner Bros. announced in December 2020 that, as for all of its other planned 2021 films, Dune will be streamed simultaneously on the HBO Max service for a period of one month, after which the film will be removed until the normal home media release schedule period, following a similar release pattern that Warner Bros. used for Wonder Woman 1984. Villeneuve was one of several directors, alongside movie theater chains and production companies (including Legendary Entertainment, which produced and financed the film), who expressed disappointment and displeasure over the move. He stated, "Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of Dune's scope and scale. Warner Bros.' decision means Dune won't have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph," and that, "My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big screen experience. Our movie's image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theaters." At the end of his appearance on Saturday Night Live, Chalamet wore a hoodie with the Legendary Pictures logo on it in response to the news, supposedly in support of Legendary.
Dune will have its world premiere on September 3, 2021 at the 78th Venice International Film Festival. It is also slated to screen at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, which will have an IMAX world premiere screening at the Cinesphere.
Vanity Fair published an extensive first-look report on Dune on April 13, 2020. Empire's October 2020 issue's cover story included an in-depth look at the film and interviews with cast and crew, providing additional first looks ahead of the film's trailer release.
On February 26, 2019, Funcom announced that it was entering into an exclusive partnership with Legendary Entertainment to develop games related to the upcoming Dune films.
Other Dune franchise works, unrelated to the film, are planned to be released near the same time as the film. The original Dune board game, produced by Avalon Hill in 1979, has been republished after being out of print for many years by Gale Force Nine to tie in with the film, along with the development of new board games based on the Dune franchise. A three-part graphical novel adaption of the books is being written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson with illustrations by Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín, with plans to be published by Abrams Books starting in October 2020 to tie into the film's release. In May 2020, Boom! Studios was announced to have acquired the comic and graphic novel rights to the 1999 prequel novel Dune: House Atreides, with the intent of doing a 12-issue comic adaptation written by the original authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. In March 2020, Modiphius Entertainment announced it was helming a new role-playing game based on the franchise, Dune: Adventures in the Imperium.
A new board game, Dune Imperium, was released by Dire Wolf Digital in December 2020. The game blends deck building and worker placement for up to four players. The game also features an automated opponent that can be used for solo play or in games of less than four players.
In September 2020, McFarlane Toys announced a line of 7-inch figures modeled after characters from the film. A 12-inch figure of Baron Harkonnen was announced at the same time. As of September 2020, the line was slated for a Fall release.
This film also a confirmed a digital will be November 2021. Available on DVD, Bluray, 4K Ultra Hd and BluRay 3D will be December 2021.