Sunday, 23 April 2017

Denis Villeneuve confirmed as director of Dune remake

In was announced back in November that Legendary Entertainment – the studio Pacific Rim (2013) and Godzilla (2014) – had snapped up the rights to Dune, Frank Herbert's sprawling, complex series of science fiction novels. Not long after that, we heard rumblings that they wanted French Canadian wunderkind Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) to direct the new film. Now it looks as though it is official.

Frank's son Brian Herbert tweeted recently that Legendary "has signed the very talented Denis Villeneuve to direct the exciting new DUNE series film project". Intriguingly, the tweet suggests a franchise is planned rather than a single film – an ambitious scheme for ambitious material.

Much like the rise of the Atreides, Dune's cinematic history is legendarily chaotic. It languished in development limbo for most of the 1970s. Alejandro Jodorosky (El Topo) tried and failed to produce it, though his aborted efforts became a superb documentary in its own right. David Lynch eventually directed – and quickly disowned – the first completed adaptation in 1984, which starred Kyle MacLachlan, Max Von Sydow, and Sting.

Paramount Pictures were trying to get a new Dune off the ground for years, with names like Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) and Pierre Morel (Taken) attached to direct before moving on again. Paramount's Dune rights lapsed back in 2011, and Legendary Pictures were finally confirmed as the new rights owners late last year.

The curse of Dune could yet topple Villeneuve's efforts. But with the director shepherding another beloved science fiction project, Blade Runner 2049, into cinemas this year, we would wager he is certainly a safe pair of hands – and with a pedigree that includes bold, challenging, grown-up material like Sicario (2015) and Arrival (2016), this could be finally the adaptation that Herbert deserves. We will keep our ears close to the sand on this one.

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