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How Dune 2 Will Leave The Door Open For Dune Messiah, According To The Screenwriter

Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica in Dune
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

While the 1965 novel Dune stands on its own as one of the most beloved pieces of science fiction literature, it was merely the first chapter of a long-running saga that Frank Herbert kept going for several decades, and was later continued by his son Brian Herbert with author Kevin J. Anderson. Following the release of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune late last year, the filmmaker is returning to adapt the second half of Herbert’s original book for Dune: Part Two, but he’s also expressed interest in making a movie based on Dune Messiah, the second book in this series. In fact, Jon Spaihts, who co-wrote 2021’s Dune with Villeneuve and Eric Roth, has revealed that Dune: Part Two will leave the door open for a big screen version of Messiah.

Shortly after the latest Dune movie came out, Denis Villeneuve said that he’s always “envisioned” his take on the Dune mythology stretching across three movies, with an adaptation of Dune Messiah concluding the trilogy. In a recent interview, Jon Spaihts stated that while Dune and Dune: Part Two will stand on together as a complete story, there will be some seeds planted for Messiah. He explained:

There are a few tantalizing strands that lead into the future and suggest that we might not be done in this universe, despite the fact that the ending of Dune as a novel, which will be the ending of the second film, is a very satisfying conclusion. There are a number of ways in which the book also sounds ominous notes, and there are hints of foreboding about what made be yet to come.

Jon Spaihts also mentioned in his conversation with The Playlist that the Dune Messiah book, which was published in 1969, “plays as a cautionary tale” about subjects like “blending religion and politics, the hazards of following charismatic leaders, and the dangerous struggle that’s always alive between the individual and institutions.” So even though fans of the first Dune novel now longer need to worry about that story going unfinished as a big screen adaptation under Denis Villeneuve’s watchful eye, if a Messiah movie is greenlit, it will serve as a platform to deconstruct what unfolded in the preceding movies.

Dune Messiah is set 12 years after the events of Dune, and Jon Spaihts noted that it sets the stage for the Dune series to become “stranger and more epic as it carries on.” Because of that jump forward in time, it’s unclear if Denis Villeneuve would want to wait a few years before tackling Messiah, or if he’d move straight to it after Dune: Part Two is finished. It’s also worth pointing out that Messiah’s sequel, 1976’s Children of Dune, follows along with select characters from the original Dune story. The then-Sci-Fi Channel collectively adapted Messiah and Children into one miniseries, but it’s hard to say if Villeneuve would include elements from Children in his version of Messiah.

It may be a while before we learn if Warner Bros. and Legendary are interested in Denis Villeneuve making a Dune Messiah movie, but regardless, the Dune property isn’t leaving our screens anytime soon. Regarding Dune: Part Two, along with actors like Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin and Zendaya all expected to return (with the latter two having expanded roles as Chani and Stilgar, respectively), casting reports for new characters have started coming in. Black Widow’s Florence Pugh is being eyed to play Princess Irulan Corrino, and Elvis star Austin Butler is in negotiations for the Feyd-Rautha role. Meanwhile over on HBO Max, Dune: The Sisterhood is in development, with the series exploring the Bene Dessert prior to the events of Dune.

Dune: Part Two is scheduled for October 20, 2023, but Dune: The Sisterhood doesn’t have a release date yet. If you’re interested in re-watching Denis Villeneuve’s first Dune movie or made it this far and haven’t actually seen it, it’s once again available to view if you have an HBO Max subscription.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.