Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve has taken on the prodigious task of adapting sci-fi classic novel series Dune into a live-action film. Known for their dense mythology and complex narrative structure, many fans claim it is impossible to make a cohesive Dune movie that does justice to the novels. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Villeneuve revealed that his intention is to split the complicated storyline into multiple installments.
"I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie. The world is too complex. It's a world that takes its power in details."
Denis Villeneuve also cited the example of the recent adaptation of Stephen King's It novel into two movies. The story of a shape-shifting killer clown who terrorizes a bunch of kids from childhood all the way into their adult lives benefited from having one movie focus on their childhood, with the sequel exploring their adventures as adults.
On the other hand, sometimes Hollywood splits novel adaptations into multiple installments simply for the sake of prolonging a franchise. The more notorious example was the Hobbit movies, adapted from a single novel written by J. R. R. Tolkien, into an unnecessary trilogy. The Fantastic Beasts movie also went from being a standalone feature to becoming its own series, shoehorning in the story of Gellert Grindlewald and his enmity with Albus Dumbledore in what was originally supposed to be a simple children's story about Newt Scamander and his hunt for magical creatures.
Dune however, is the type of novel that demands a detailed approach. The series explores a world set 19000 years in the future, on the planet Arrakis, a dusty world that becomes the point of conflict between several ruling clans battling for dominance. There are long inner monologues, characters wordlessly undergoing seismic internal shifts, and metaphysical imagery that reads like a Star Wars acid trip.
To do full justice to the world of Dune, you need more than a single movie. The question is, will the first film in the planned series prove popular enough with audiences to warrant sequels? While the Dune novels have a devoted following, they are also often considered inaccessible to outsiders or casual readers, featuring involved discussions of the socio-political landscape by characters in a way that is not very cinematic.
Precisely the same problem was once associated with George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones series, and the success of its TV adaption proved that now is the time that audiences are willing to invest in stories that are more complex than the traditional hero's quest storylines often seen in fantasy and sci-fi films.
The sequel to Dune has already brought writer Jon Spaihts onboard, who was previously attached to a spinoff series from the franchise for HBO Max, entitled Dune: The Sisterhood. If the first film in the planned franchise takes off, there is plenty of material waiting to be mined from the novels to create multiple shows, movies, video games, and even graphic novels. This news from from Vanity Fair.