“Dune” is officially getting a sequel.
Legendary Entertainment announced the news in a tweet on Tuesday, writing: “This is only the beginning…” along with a photo stating “Dune Part Two.” Warner Bros. will distribute the film and help finance it, though Legendary is the primary money behind the movie and owns the rights to the book series. The film will have an exclusive theatrical run, which was a key part of the negotiations after Warner Bros. decision to debut the sci-fi epic simultaneously on HBO Max as a pandemic-era concession caused an uproar. It hits theaters on Oct. 10, 2023.
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The first part of the sci-fi epic, which opened Oct. 22 in the U.S. simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, earned $41 million in ticket sales in its first weekend. That result was the best opening of the year for Warner Bros. and a sign of fans desire to not only stream “Dune,” but see it on the big screen. The film has also performed well overseas, earning nearly $225 million globally. Domestically, its opening results were roughly in line with what Warner Bros. expected the film to generate when it greenlit — that’s notable because that’s long before COVID-19 upended the media landscape.
A return to Arrakis was always part of the plan. “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve has been adamant in interviews that his film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel has two parts. In fact, the film’s opening title sequence rather boldly reads “Dune: Part 1.”
When interviewed by Variety at Toronto Film Festival, Villeneuve said: “I wanted at the beginning to do the two parts simultaneously. For several reasons, it didn’t happen, and I agreed to the challenge of making part one and then wait to see if the movie rings enough enthusiasm… As I was doing the the first part, I really put all my passion into it, in case it would be the only one. But I’m optimistic.”
There’s still a lot of story left to unfold. “Dune: Part 1” (is that its official title now?) ends with Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides, a Messianic figure at the heart of the series, seeking shelter from enemies in the desert. “Dune: Part 2” will follow his efforts exact revenge against the noble families who murdered his father, Duke Leto Atreides, and restore himself to power.
WarnerMedia leadership also hinted at a part two in an interview with Variety on Thursday, with exec Ann Sarnoff saying that the green light would be based on “the entirety of what ‘Dune’ can do for the company, including HBO Max.”
“The story in itself sets up for a sequel. The production is so amazing and the storytelling is so compelling that it’s not going to be judged on box office alone,” Sarnoff said.
The first “Dune” film stars Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem and more. Casting for the film’s second part has not yet been announced, but many members of the ensemble, such as Chalamet, have said they’re game to come back for more.
Critics were mostly kind to “Dune,” and reviews aside, Villeneuve has accomplished something many thought impossible. Directors struggled for decades to bring Herbert’s novels to the screen and when David Lynch finally did manage to adapt the sprawling book, the result was 1984’s “Dune,” a catastrophe on every level and a picture that the filmmaker would later disavow.
Warner Bros. and Legendary previously partnered on last March’s “Godzilla vs. Kong,” a monster mash-up that grossed an impressive $467.8 million globally.
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