For a guy who made the bold decision to tell only half of the story in his Dune movie and not jinx it with a “part one” in the title or anything, Denis Villeneuve sure seems surprised that Warner Bros. is actually letting him make that Dune sequel. In his defense, the movie’s box office hopes seemed pretty grim when Warner Bros. announced its plan to put all of its 2021 movies on HBO Max, so it wouldn’t have been totally surprising if the sequel had been canned, but Dune actually broke through the somewhat low expectations and did fine at the box office, giving Warner Bros. and Legendary enough confidence to greenlight part two.
Since then, though, Villeneuve has seemed a little frazzled by the idea of making a whole other Dune movie—it’s like when you tell someone to stop by if they’re ever in town, and then they show up unannounced and suddenly you actually have to think of things for Javier Bardem and Zendaya to do. Shortly after the sequel was confirmed, the director and co-writer explained that, while it is “fantastic news,” it is also “kind of a burden.” He also noted that a lot of the work is already done, since they cast all of those famous people who were barely in the first movie, which means that filming should be able to start this fall.
Now, Villeneuve has offered an update on how Dune: Part Two is going to Collider, and the answer should be pretty familiar to anyone who has volunteered for a project they never really expected to do: “The screenplay is finished mostly, but it’s always a work in progress,” he told Collider, adding that “it’ll be a work in progress until final cut, but I will say it’s solidified.” On its face, this statement seems to reflect at least a little more movement than George R.R. Martin’s usual “I’ll get to it when I get to it” responses, but saying that something is “finished mostly” might as well mean “we haven’t started, please stop asking.”
Villeneuve also says that there’s “more pressure” on this second movie, since the first one was able to lean on introducing the world and the characters, but this one actually has to properly wrap up Frank Herbert’s first book. Villeneuve even says that it’s “like there’s some premises that are in the first movie” that he’ll have to “ignore,” which makes it sound like some concepts or characters that are brought up in Dune won’t get addressed in Part Two.
Luckily, Villeneuve has plenty of time to figure out what’s going to happen in Dune: Part Two, as it’s not scheduled to come out until... 2023? Ooh, that’s not really that far off.