Dune 2 is not a sure thing – but director Denis Villeneuve is optimistic

Dune exclusive image from Total Film magazine
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Dune finally arrives in cinemas this October, but the movie only tells half the story.

"There’s no such thing as Dune 1 and Dune 2. It’s Dune: Part One and Dune: Part Two," director Denis Villeneuve – best known for helming Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 – tells Total Film in the new issue of the magazine.

However, despite the sequel being a priority for Villeneuve, the filmmaker's Blade Runner sequel fell notably short at the box office. So what does Part One have to achieve for Part Two to become a reality? 

"We have been hearing in the past few decades that it’s not possible to adapt this book, and that it’s an impossible task. I think that in the back of the mind of the studio, it’s still the same!" Villeneuve says with a hearty laugh. 

"So the first thing was to prove that there was a beautiful, popular movie that can exist, and I think that I proved that – everybody at Warner Bros and Legendary, they are 100 percent behind the project. They feel that it would need a really bad outcome at the box office to not have a Dune: Part Two, because they love the movie. They are proud of the movie, so they want the movie to move forward. And they still did half of it. So, you know, I’m very optimistic."

Box-office numbers won't be quite as clear an indicator of success as they once were. In the US, Dune is also being released on HBO Max simultaneously with the theatrical release, a move that courted controversy, with Villeneuve himself writing an open letter in opposition.

"First of all, the enemy of cinema is the pandemic. That’s the thing. We understand that the cinema industry is under tremendous pressure right now. That I get," Villeneuve concedes adding, however, "The way it happened, I’m still not happy. Frankly, to watch Dune on a television, the best way I can compare it is to drive a speedboat in your bathtub. For me, it’s ridiculous. It’s a movie that has been made as a tribute to the big-screen experience."

As for Villeneuve, he’s currently hard at work on that return trip, praying to the makers that enough people share his dreams. "I’m writing [Part Two] now, and I feel like I’m eight years old again," he says, flashing a childlike grin. "That’s very uncommon for me. It’s the first time I’ve experienced it where I’m watching one of my movies, and I have a moment of deep gratitude, of deep joy, and I say, 'Thank you, life, for having allowed me to bring that to the screen.' [laughs] I don’t know how other people will feel about it. But me? Denis Villeneuve when he was 14 years old? Thank you."

Dune is scheduled to open in US cinemas and on HBO Max on October 22. It will open in UK cinemas on October 21. For much more on the film, including interviews with all of the starry cast, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film when it hits shelves on Friday 20 August. Check out the new cover below, as well as the cover of the special supplement that comes with the issue. 

Total Film's Dune issue and special supplement

(Image credit: Total Film/Warner Bros)

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Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.