Denis Villeneuve made Dune intending for it to be a franchise, setting up the first movie to only cover half of the book. But Warner Bros and Legendary didn’t officially give the green light for a second movie until this week, setting Part Two’s premiere for October 20, 2023. Though that date seems far away, it’s actually very soon for a movie that was just approved. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Villeneuve admits that while he’s excited, there’s a downside to it all happening so quickly.
“It’s fantastic news, but it’s also kind of a burden,” he says. “The good news is that a lot of the work has been done already regarding design, casting, locations and writing. So we’re not starting from scratch.”
He adds, “It’s not a long period of time, but I will try to face that challenge because it’s important for me that the audience sees Part Two as soon as possible. It’s not a sequel where it’s another episode or another story with the same characters. It actually has direct continuity to the first movie. It’s the second part of the big huge movie that I’m trying to do. So the sooner the better.”
As for when filming starts, he estimates that it’ll begin in fall of 2022, giving him a year to make the movie. Villeneuve also recently told Entertainment Weekly that he intends to make three Dune movies, to follow the full arc from Frank Herbert’s novel.
Dune is currently available to stream on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously. This allows viewers to watch from the comfort of their home and pause when they have to go to the bathroom or to join in on the “what kind of name is Duncan Idaho?” and “where’s Zendaya?” discourse. But that won’t be the case with Part Two. The second movie will get an exclusive 45-day theatrical window.
“For me, it was a non-negotiable condition,” said Villeneuve. “But again, I love streaming. I use streaming all the time. I think it’s a fantastic way of revisiting movies or discovering movies from the past that are not accessible in theaters anymore. But I still think that contemporary movies need to have their chance. All movies need to have proper time in theaters.”
And he agrees with those who’ve been very vocal about how Dune deserves to be watched on a big screen, rather than on someone’s laptop or TV.
“The theatrical experience is at the very heart of the cinematic language for me. There’s something about committing. The act of going to the theater means you’re totally committing yourself. You’re engaging in the process of receiving a movie with a different rhythm, a different approach and a vision,” he said.
“For that, you have to be fully committed. It’s part of the ritual to receive cinema. At home, you’re in front of your computer, you’re taking the dog outside or you’re answering your phone.”