In the last line of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune,” Zendaya’s character says, “This is only the beginning.” She might as well have been talking about the “Dune” franchise itself. Villeneuve is currently in pre-production on “Dune: Part 2,” which is expected to begin filming in late summer, and a television series centered on the Bene Gesserit is already in development. Jon Spaihts, who is an Oscar nominee this year for co-writing “Dune” with Villeneuve and Eric Roth, hinted to The Playlist this week that the franchise probably won’t stop there as he’s been hired to “investigate other cinematic prospects in the ‘Dune’ universe.”
Spaihts was originally set to serve as showrunner of the aforementioned HBO Max television series, officially titled “Dune: The Sisterhood,” but he dropped out of the project in November 2019 so he could focus solely on writing “Dune: Part 2.” But that’s not at all Spaihts was tasked with by WarnerMedia.
“[The television show] is carrying on and I’m not allowed to talk about it very much. But that effort is alive and well,” Spaihts told The Playlist. “I ended up getting moved off of it to work, not just on ‘Dune: Part 2,’ but to investigate other cinematic prospects in the ‘Dune’ universe, which we are still talking about and which, again, I’m not allowed to say very much about. But it is a very rich world in which to play, and I think it is ripe with opportunities for storytelling in every direction.”
Considering Spaihts’ comment, it appears WarnerMedia is hoping to expand the “Dune” universe beyond just the projects that have been announced. It’s hardly a surprising reveal given that most major studio franchises these days, from Marvel to “Star Wars” and the DCEU, exist across various film and streaming television projects. Villeneuve has already gone on record expressing interest in making a third “Dune” movie based on Frank Herbert’s sequel novel “Dune Messiah.”
“There is ‘Dune’s’ second book, ‘The Messiah of Dune,’ which could make an extraordinary film,” Villeneuve told CBC Radio Canada last August. “I always saw that there could be a trilogy; after that, we’ll see. It’s years of work; I can’t think of going further than that.”
Spaihts doubled down on the potential for a third “Dune” movie, telling The Playlist, “Denis has talked seriously about making [‘Dune Messiah’] as well, as a conclusion of the trilogy. ‘Dune Messiah’ is a very interesting book, which in some ways, deconstructs ‘Dune’ and plays as a cautionary tale, even more than Dune does, about the dangers of blending religion and politics, the hazards of following charismatic leaders and the dangerous struggle that’s always alive between the individual and institutions.”
When asked if “Dune: Part 2” might lay the groundwork with hints at what’s to come in a potential third movie, Spaihts answered, “I think that’s right. There are a few tantalizing strands that lead into the future and suggest that we might not be done in this universe, despite the fact that the ending of ‘Dune’ as a novel, which will be the ending of the second film, is a very satisfying conclusion.”
“Dune” is now available to stream on HBO Max. “Dune: Part 2” is set for release from Warner Bros. on October 23, 2023.