Why The Dune Remake Won't Happen Any Time Soon, According To Its Director

Sandworm Dune Frank Herbert book cover

Director Denis Villeneuve's ascent to notoriety has been a rocket ship -- and a lot of that has to do with the fact that he's been extremely prolific. The year 2013 saw the release of both the Jake Gyllenhaal-led Enemy as well as Prisoners with Hugh Jackman; 2015 was the year of Sicario with Emily Blunt; and after making his sci-fi debut last year with Arrival, he will follow it up with Blade Runner 2049 this fall. He's already set up to make his next project, the long-awaited remake of Frank Herbert's Dune... but those of you hoping for its release in the next couple months should exhale. The last few years have been busy for Villeneuve, and he's ready for a break.

With Arrival now out on Blu-ray and DVD, and the film celebrating eight Academy Award nominations, I had the chance to speak one-on-one with Denis Villeneuve about his workload during a recent press day in Los Angeles. In the midst of discussing his work in science-fiction and anticipation for Dune, the French Canadian filmmaker admitted to me that he feels he has been taking on too much recently and needs to take a step back before legitimately diving into the sands of Arrakis. Said Villeneuve,

The problem right now, and something I want to change, I worked very fast. I did Prisoners, and then after that, in the past six years I have done five movies -- which is not a good idea! It's too fast. And I learned a lot, I learned so much, for the time now I need just a little time to digest. After Blade Runner, as I'm working on Dune, I would love to just digest and then come back with more energy for Dune with fresh ideas. I need that right now! And so I need distance a little bit.

While the stress and intensity of Denis Villeneuve's recent workload hasn't really been negatively reflected in his work (which has been widely critically acclaimed), the calendar does reveal why he would feel the need to take a break. The director told me that the post-production experience on Arrival was a difficult one due to the layered nature of the story -- and overlapping with principal photography on Blade Runner 2049 actually meant that he missed the premiere and theatrical release of the Best Picture nominee. (You can read more about that here)

With Blade Runner 2049 not out until October 6th, that means Denis Villeneuve even still has seven more months of post-production work before he can really take a break. That obviously means that Dune is going to have to wait a bit while he catches his breath... but you shouldn't mistake any of this for lack of passion about the project.

Talking about his future with the science-fiction genre and his anticipation to work on Dune, Denis Villeneuve recounted not only what the Frank Herbert stories meant to him as a kid, but also how he's actually been on a path towards making Dune for a few years now. Said the director,

Dune is a novel that I read when I was a teenager, and I was engulfed. I was [transported] by Dune for years. When I finished Prisoners, when I came to Hollywood I made a movie called Prisoners, and I said to myself, 'It will be a one shot experience, but I will enjoy it.' And it went well, and the producers at Alcon [Entertainment] asked me after that, 'What would you like to do? Is there one thing you'd like to do?' And I said, 'Dune.' Spontaneously. I know there was competition to get the rights, but I always said to myself, and I'm saying it to you, I can't believe it will be a thing. There's no screenplay right now, but that will be my dream!

When you consider that it wasn't until last December that Denis Villeneuve actually signed on the dotted line for Dune, it's pretty easy to recognize his impressive patience in waiting for this project to come to him. It obviously worked out, and now it seems that the filmmaker is hoping that fans will have equivalent patience waiting for him to get his brain together before jumping into his next feature.

Dune is still in the earliest stages of development, and now release date is on the calendar... but the good news is that you can enjoy Denis Villeneuve's impressive sci-fi vision at your leisure right now. As mentioned, Arrival is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, and be sure to stay tuned for more updates about all of the director's future endeavors.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.