Why Dune Director Denis Villeneuve Is ‘Optimistic’ About A Sequel, Despite The Movie Arriving On HBO Max

Easily one of our most-anticipated films of 2021 has to be Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, a star-studded adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel. No one’s really doing heady science-fiction like Villeneuve, who has impressed audiences and critics alike with his recent films Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. What you might not realize, however, is that the feature film Dune that is coming to theaters and HBO Max in October is only half of the story that’s presented in Herbert’s book, so Villeneuve has begun addressing the issue of when Dune: Part Two might get filmed… or if it will get filmed, at all.

On that note, Denis Villeneuve is claiming to be “optimistic” on his chances to dive back into the production of Dune: Part Two, as the director recently told Total Film in this exclusive interview:

The first thing was to prove that there was a beautiful, popular movie that can exist, and I think that I proved that – everybody at Warner Bros. and Legendary, they are 100 percent behind the project. They feel that it would need a really bad outcome at the box office to not have a Dune: Part Two, because they love the movie. They are proud of the movie, so they want the movie to move forward. And they still did half of it. So, you know, I’m very optimistic.

That, however, is where the conversation around Dune starts to take a darker tone, especially if you are dying for Denis Villeneuve to complete the saga with Dune: Part Two. Using WB’s The Suicide Squad as a cautionary tale, films that are being released on streaming (in this case, HBO Max) at the same time as their theatrical release have less of a chance of making a tremendous splash at the box office in these uncertain times. It is understandable, from a business perspective, why WB would want to put first-run features on streaming. It no doubt helps attract subscribers to HBO Max.

But that should mean that Denis Villeneuve’s Dune has other benchmarks beyond conventional box office to hit to prove that a sequel is warranted, and that audience interest exists. Despite the best efforts by all involved to get audiences to see Dune on the biggest screen possible, there will be some who stay home and watch it on HBO Max. The director comments on that in the same interview, telling Total FIlm:

The way it happened, I’m still not happy. Frankly, to watch Dune on a television, the best way I can compare it is to drive a speedboat in your bathtub. For me, it’s ridiculous. It’s a movie that has been made as a tribute to the big-screen experience.

As for Dune: Part Two, Villeneuve confirms that he’s currently writing the screenplay for it, and while that’s no guarantee that he’ll get to film it, Warner Bros. is a studio that backed two chapters of IT, and likely knows if it has something special with Dune, or not. That cast, alone, should be reason enough for people to flock back to theaters to see a follow up film.

First, we have to turn out for Dune. The big-screen sci-fi epic blasts into theaters on October 22, led by Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, and a blistering supporting cast that includes Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem. We’re betting Dune will be something special.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.