Denis Villeneuve Might Make Dune Movies Forever – Or He May Stop At Part Two

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Dune: Part Two director Denis Villeneuve has become one of the biggest names in Hollywood over the past decade, and this second Dune film is new ground for him–it’s his first-ever sequel that he’s directed. The question now, as Dune: Part Two hits theaters to near-universal acclaim from critics, including me, is how many more does he want to make?

It’s not a question with an easy answer today. These first two Dune films work as a companion because they both adapt the original Dune novel and essentially function as one very long film. The third movie would move on to the next book, Dune Messiah, and Villeneuve isn’t necessarily going to even direct that one, even though he’s already working on the screenplay.

“I really tried to make Part One and Part Two, like, in my mind, it could be a finished story. I could walk away from Dune and feel that I went there, I went to Arrakis, I said what I had to say about Arrakis,” Villaneuve told me when I asked him about his long-term plans. “But I feel that, and I felt that as I was doing Part One, that it could be a great idea to do a third movie with Dune Messiah, where I will finish Paul Atreides’ arc, completely finish it. And so there will be a possibility for me to go back a last time. I think that it’s in the works right now. And if we manage to do a strong screenplay, I would go back.”

So if the script doesn’t come out the way Villeneuve likes, he may skip making the third movie. But if he does direct Dune: Part Three, he might just keep going with it after that with Dune 4 and beyond. But it’s not a question he really has an answer for right now, and it’s doubtful that will change any time soon.

“I’m a big, massive Dune fan. But as a filmmaker, I think that, for my mental sanity, it will be interesting also to–there’s other stories that I want to tell. And those movies are very long to make, and it takes years and years. And so I feel that the truth is that I go one movie at a time,” Villenueve said.

“Now that Part Two is finished, I feel that I could do a third one. When the third one will be finished, how will I feel? I don’t know, maybe I will find you again in three or four years, like, ‘You know what? I’m doing another.’ But I cannot say that for now.”

There are other factors that will be considered as well–how many hundreds of millions of dollars Warner Bros decides to spend on Dune movies isn’t entirely up to Villeneuve. But success at the box office and massive love from critics–a combination the first Dune nailed even though it was available to stream on HBO Max the day it was released in theaters–tends to earn a filmmaker a lot of goodwill. But Villeneuve said the first film’s success ended up being a major creative boon, not because it gave them more creative freedom, but rather because it boosted morale in a big way.

“The way the first movie was received, of course, created a joy in my team, and people came back to work with a big smile. It was a boost. There was a hunger to go back to Arrakis, we were all excited to go back. It was the first time I was experiencing that, I’d never done that before to go back, it was extremely interesting,” Villeneuve told me.

“The only thing is that we were a bit of fools because the movie was much more ambitious. And I had written something with Jon Spaihts that was much more complex. So we worked very hard. It was not an easy movie to make. By far the biggest challenge technically of my life.”

Dune: Part Two lands in movie theaters on Friday, March 1.

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