‘Forrest Gump’ Writer Eric Roth to Pen Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ Reboot (EXCLUSIVE)

Eric Roth Dune writer
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Legendary has tapped veteran scribe Eric Roth to write the “Dune” reboot.

“Arrival” and “Sicario” filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is directing the movie.

Legendary closed a deal with the Frank Herbert estate last Thanksgiving for his iconic novel, granting the studio rights to not only films, but also TV projects on the sci-fi property.


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The projects would be produced by Villeneuve, Mary Parent and Cale Boyter, with Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt, Thomas Tull and Kim Herbert serving as executive producers. Kevin J Anderson will serve as a creative consultant.

Set in the distant future, “Dune” follows Paul Atreides, whose family assumes control of the desert planet Arrakis. As the only producer of a highly valuable resource, jurisdiction over Arrakis is contested among competing noble families. After Paul and his family are betrayed, the story explores themes of politics, religion, and man’s relationship to nature, as Paul leads a rebellion to restore his family’s reign.

The book has sold almost 20 million copies since its original release and in 2003 was named the best-selling sci fi novel of all time.

The novel was also adapted for the 1984 film directed by David Lynch. The movie, which starred Kyle MacLachlan, was initially considered a flop — it was critically panned and grossed just $30.9 million on a $40 million budget — but has recently attained cult status.

Best known for his work on Oscar fare such as “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Munich,” and “Forrest Gump,” which earned Roth his only Academy Award, this movie would mark Roth’s first foray into the world of science fiction.

He is repped by CAA and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein.

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  1. Alexandre Tournai says:

    I hope you’re wrong, I genuinely do. David Lynch wasn’t experienced in sci-fi either, only in bizarre/oppressive movies. It might turn well, especially considering Denis Villeneuve says he’s a passionate fan of Dune. For the moment being, I trust him to bring a strong vision about Dune, just like David did. It will probably turn out very different, colorful etc… But as long a his vision and leadership are strong, I’m all for it personally.
    I will still love to madness the original Dune whatever might come out anyway…

  2. Malus Österblau says:

    They chose a man with no experience in sci-fi to write the screenplay? Typical horseshit move from Hollywood. What’s the doucher good for? Oh, right, he’s Oscar bait. This Dune will be a cash in, that’s all, and Frank’s son will crash production into a million pieces. This will be nothing like Dune.

  3. jason says:

    The book has sold almost 20 million copies since its original release and in 2003

    Um, try 1965.

    • Cody k says:

      There are two separate clauses in that sentence:

      >The book has sold almost 20 million copies since its original release

      >in 2003 was named the best-selling sci fi novel of all time

      You might note the ‘and’ separating them.

  4. Skip Hanson says:

    I have read Dune many times and am an avid fan. I actually think this can work if 3 movies are made that match the 3 sections of the book: Dune, The Prophet, and Muad’dib. Think of the Lord of the Rings as one large book in 3 sections. That is how the movies were made and it worked. I think the same will work with Dune. Movie-goers are used to 2.5 to 3 hr movies these days so we could have 8 to 9 hours of screen time for Dune. That should give ample time to do it justice!

    • SyFy channel did a miniseries adaption of Dune and Children of Dune, both miniseries done in three parts. Hopefully this new adaption will follow the route because there’s no way Dune can be just one single movie.

  5. Roth’s first foray into the world of science fiction? Are we forgetting The Postman? Then again, maybe it is best forgotten.

  6. Marvin Cohen says:

    Doing this right would be a truly monumental task. The novel is sometimes called the greatest in the history of science fiction, and a proper film needs to be more serious than the Godfather, more thrilling (in choice spots) than Star Wars, and have far more magnificent visuals than Avatar.

    Lynch’s attempt was too much for him, and it feels like part Disney and part David Lynch, but the true grandeur of the book is just not there (and Television could never do it).

    High hopes for this, but oh what a task…

  7. darktrain says:

    should be a 10 part tv series not a film otherwise why bother?

  8. adam says:

    Bad idea. I love the novel (read it several times), I love the David Lynch film (even with all of its flaws) and I somewhat liked the SciFi Channel mini-series. This new film though is destined to be a box office flop. Dune is simply too complex to stuff into a 2 hour film and mainstream audiences today won’t be interested.

  9. Brigitte Cowan says:

    Dune is going to be difficult to bring to the screen in one movie. It is far too complicated, too many details would have to be left out, diminishing the divine complexity of the book. The best part of Dune is in its complexity, the political intrigues, the delicate balance between competing factions of the Landsraad, Emperor, Spacing Guild and Bene Geserit. Once they enter the world of the Fremen it becomes even more fascinating, the ecological and political clashes are fabulous. If those aren’t explored, the final outcome is flat. That is what tanked the last movie, that and casting. I truly hope they consider making this a trilogy like they did with the Sy Fy channel miniseries only instead of trying to encompass 3 books, just do it with Dune.

    • John says:

      A lot of detail is not the same as complexity. “Dune” is actually a pretty simple story at its core and the first novel could be covered in one 3 hours film without losing too much of the details. The most important task is to keep it real. Lynch’s film failed because it was more fantasy than Sci-Fi and took too many liberties. The whole design of the worlds was wrong, too: Too comical and it didn’t look like people could really live there.

  10. Eric Johnson says:


  11. Frank says:

    Wow! Eric Roth is one of the writers in the film business. I love all his stuff. “The Good Shepherd” was actually one of his best screenplays, but Robert de Niro’s slightly misjudged and miscast film didn’t do it justice. It’s a masterpiece of dramatic writing and should have gotten him another Oscar. Denis Villneuve is a very good director and has a talent for realism, just what this material needs. “Dune” is now at the very top of my ‘Must see’ list for the next years…Great news.

  12. Ben says:

    There are really bad ideas and then, somewhere lower down, is the idea for a reboot of Dune

  13. Steve Barr says:

    Eric Roth also wrote the very under appreciated The Good Shepherd.

  14. Matt Johns says:

    I get what you mean, but “He is currently an exec producer on the TNT drama “The Alienist,” which may have piqued his interest in the genre.” ? That really isn’t science fiction, it’s more turn of the century crime, the name “alienist” comes from “an archaic term for a psychiatrist or psychologist.” Like I get it, but just because “alien” is in the name doesn’t make it sci-fi. But love Roth anyway. Just sayin

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