Wait, Ridley Scott Almost Made His Own Dune Movie? Why He Says He Backed Out

Zendaya and Timothee Chalamet in Dune, future visions
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Dune has been adapted multiple times for the big and small screens with mixed results. Of course, audiences and critics have praised Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film adaptation of the celebrated book series. On the opposite end, David Lynch’s infamous 1984 take gained cult status despite its poor reception. But Lynch wasn’t the first choice to direct that particular sci-fi film, according to another celebrated filmmaker. House of Gucci director Ridley Scott almost made his version of Dune before having to back out.

Of course, multiple directors have been tasked with translating the complex book into a visual spectacle. Ridley Scott was on track to helm the 1984 version before David Lynch took the project on. Many times, the source material has proven to be a daunting task for filmmakers, but according to Scott, that perception may not be true. The acclaimed director pushed back by saying to Total Film:

It’s always been filmable. I had a writer called Rudy Wurlitzer, of the Wurlitzer family, you know the Jukebox?

So, the myth surrounding Dune being difficult to translate is nonsense, according to Ridley Scott. Denis Villeneuve’s big-screen sci-fi epic proved the source can be adapted with the right director and vision. Scott came close to having his version in theaters, but the House of Gucci director spilled what drove him to back away from the project, saying:

He’d written two films: Two-Lane Blacktop with James Taylor, and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which had Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. My brain’s working quite well today, actually! We did a very good take on Dune, because early days, I’d work very, very closely with the writer. I was always glomming the look of the film onto what he or she was writing. And then [producer] Dino [De Laurentiis] had got me into it and we said, ‘We did a script, and the script is pretty fucking good.’ Then Dino said, ‘It’s expensive, we’re going to have to make it in Mexico.’ I said, ‘What!’ He said, ‘Mexico.’ I said, ‘Really?’ So he sent me to Mexico City. And with the greatest respect to Mexico City, in those days [it was] pretty pongy. I didn’t love it. I went to the studio in Mexico City where the floors were Earth floors in the studio. I said, ‘Nah, Dino, I don’t want to make this a hardship.’ And so I actually backed out and instead moved on to Legend. Tim Curry and Tom Cruise.

It seemed like Ridley Scott dodged a bullet given the reception to David Lynch’s final output. Scott knew his vision of Dune wouldn’t be up to his or fans’ standards given the conditions. Of course, now, moviegoers got a version they can love courtesy of Denis Villeneuve’s celebrated hit, which is currently in theaters

Ridley Scott has clearly moved on, as evident by his decades-long career, including House of Gucci, which is currently in theaters. His next directorial effort will be Kitbag, which features Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte.

Adreon Patterson
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A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).