Dune 3 Gets an Unexpected Update Despite Dune 2 Delay

Even as studios foolishly push back the release of Dune Part 2, director Denis Villeneuve shares thoughts on a third movie in the series.

Paul as Messiah in Dune 2
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Paul Atreides stands before a mass of warriors, even greater in number than reports had indicated. When he came to the planet Arrakis, Paul was just another human, someone who will die, just like his father Leto and his grandfather Paulus, and he only knew the Fremen from his studies and holofilms. But the Fremen see him not as Paul, but as Muad’Dib. And Muad’Dib cannot be stopped, certainly not by the machinations of the Harkonnens, nor by their masters, Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV and the powerful trade group CHOAM.

Okay, that might be a very extra way to start a production update, but it’s hard not to think of the battle between creatives and business people in grand terms during this moment for the industry and in regards to Dune. For months now, the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild have been on strike, demanding a fairer share of the profits generated by their work. But the studios represented by the AMPTP would like to keep the overwhelming majority of the profits and refuse to budge.

Part of the strike involves a restriction against writers and actors promoting their work. And despite the success of 2022’s Dune, a large part of Dune: Part Two‘s appeal is its all-star cast, which has added from the first movie hot commodities such as Florence Pugh and Austin Butler. Because Warner Bros. cannot use these actors to market the sequel, its executives have decided to push back the release date of Dune: Part Two to 2024, thus killing the momentum of people returning to theaters after COVID.

But despite setbacks with the sequel, Dune director Denis Villeneuve still has his eyes on the future. Speaking with Empire, Villeneuve revealed that he sees Dune not as a two-parter, but as a trilogy. “If I succeed in making a trilogy, that would be the dream,” the Canadian director admitted. In fact, the possibility of Dune: Part Three is more than just a dream. “I will say, there are words on paper,” Villeneuve revealed.

Ad – content continues below

While he may be tight-lipped about the production specifics, Villeneuve did indicate the source material for his third film: Dune Messiah. The first sequel to Frank Herbert‘s Dune (Villeneuve split the first book into two halves for his movies), Messiah gives us a very different Paul from the boy we saw in the first Dune.

Dune Messiah was written in reaction to the fact that people perceived Paul Atreides as a hero,” Villeneuve explained. “Which is not what he wanted to do. My adaptation is closer to his idea that it’s actually a warning.”

As it continues the stories of Paul and Chani, and brings Pugh’s character Princess Irulan more into focus, Dune Messiah seems like a smart choice for Villeneuve. However, fans will also note that even as Herbert’s later books turn their attention to Paul’s descendants, he and other characters do reapear in the sequels, often in a very unlikely form. Does Villeneuve plan to adapt those as well?

“After [Dune Messiah] the books become more… esoteric,” he told Empire. But maybe, his experience dealing with studio bosses will one day inspire him to tell more stories about disgusting worm-people who destroy others to maintain their control.

Dune: Part Two will hit theaters on March 15, 2024.