Why Denis Villeneuve’s Dune Is Rated PG-13

Timothee Chalamet in Dune

2020 is a year where many things have not gone according to plan, particularly movie releases. For example, Dune was supposed to open in theaters on December 18, but Warner Bros eventually decided to push it to fall 2021. So we’re still a ways off from seeing Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of author Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel, but at least we don’t have to wait that long to learn what it’s rated, as it’s been officially declared that Dune will be PG-13.

So why has Dune been stamped with a PG-13 rating. The reasons are listed below, as passed on by Filmaratings.com:

Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, some disturbing images and suggestive material.

Yeah, that sounds about right. Dune certainly isn’t a story intended for children, and while there isn’t necessarily enough material in the story to elevate it to R-rated territory, there’s definitely plenty of room for it to operate in a PG-13 space. David Lynch’s Dune, which came out in 1984, was also rated PG-13, although that movie adapted all of the original novel, whereas Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming movie will only cover the first half of the book.

Of course, given that Dune is part of Warner Bros’ 2021 release slate, that means it will be released on HBO Max the same day as it opens in theaters. So while it’s still up to parents to decide whether or not Dune is appropriate for their children to watch, now it’s just a matter of turning on the TV rather than purchasing tickets at the kiosk once that decision is made. Provided, of course, they catch Dune (or any of next year’s Warner Bros movies) within the one-month HBO Max window, as once that’s over, they’ll either need to see the movie in a theater or wait until it arrives on home media.

Just like in the original story, Denis Villenueve’s Dune will follow the journey of Paul Atreides, played in this adaptation by Timothée Chalamet. When House Atreides is betrayed following Duke Leto Atreides, played by Oscar Isaac, taking stewardship of Arrakis and its spice mining operation, Paul and his mother, Rebecca Ferguson’s Lady Jessica, must flee to the desert planet’s surface and ally themselves with the native Fremen. Dune’s cast also includes Stellan Skarsgård, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, Charlotte Rampling, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Chang Chen.

Denis Villeneuve, whose credits include Prisoners, Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, had expressed interest for years in adapting Dune as a two-part film series, and in early 2017, it was confirmed he’d direct the project. Brian Herbert recently described Villeneuve’s Dune as the “definitive” film adaptation of his father’s novel. As of right now, while Dune 2, i.e. the movie that will chronicle the second half of the original book, hasn’t officially been given the green light yet, Jon Spaihts, who co-wrote Dune with Villeneuve and Eric Roth, is penning the screenplay. There’s also a prequel series in development for HBO Max called Dune: The Sisterhood.

Dune is slated to drop on October 1, 2021, though if that ends up changing, we here at CinemaBlend will let you know. Keep track of the other movies that are supposed to come out next year with our 2021 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.