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How many Dune movies will there be?

Director Denis Villeneuve says he’s taking it movie by movie

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Dune: Part Two Photo: Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures

Director Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune is almost complete, with the second half of the classic sci-fi novel hitting movie theaters this November. Dune: Part Two will continue Paul Atreides’ journey of discovery on Arrakis, and explore his relationship with Chani and the Fremen as he seeks revenge against his family’s enemies.

But where does Dune go from there? After all, Frank Herbert published six Dune novels (other authors, including son Brian Herbert, have released more than a dozen prequel and sequel books), and Villeneuve’s two-parter will only cover the first of those books. How many Dune movies can moviegoers expect?

Villeneuve appears to be taking the franchise on a film-by-film basis, and predicts he’ll ultimately make three Dune movies, adapting the original 1965 novel and Herbert’s 1969 follow-up, Dune Messiah.

“The thing I envision [is] the adaptation of two books, Dune and Dune Messiah,” Villeneuve said at a press junket in 2021, as reported by Nerdist. “We decided to split the first novel in two, so now we are at three movies. Those movies are very long to make. For my mental sanity, I decided to just dream about three movies.”

Dune Messiah would be a much more manageable adaptation for Villeneuve and crew. The original Dune novel spans more than 700 pages, while Messiah clocks in at a much leaner 350 (based on the currently available paperback editions of those books).

Whether the film franchise goes beyond three movies and two books is still up in the air (and up to Dune’s continued box office performance). Warner Bros. distributes the Dune movies — Legendary Pictures produces them — and the media conglomerate seems intent on extracting the most out of its intellectual properties. That’s evident in Warner Bros.’ plans to bring Dune to television too, even if those plans have stalled.

Dune: Part Two premieres in movie theaters (not HBO Max) on Nov. 3.

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