the dune must flow.
After Dune (finally!) hits HBO Max and hits theaters on October 22, everyone will want to know one thing: what about the sequel? and beyond that, how long is this series of dunes anyway?
After the dune: part one, there will (hopefully) be a dune: part two. And that’s not all; Director Denis Villeneuve also hopes to make a trilogy of dune movies. But there’s a twist: Villeneuve’s proposed trilogy would only adapt Frank Herbert’s first two novels, of which there are six in all.
Here’s what you can expect from Villeneuve’s planned trilogy, plus how a second dune trilogy might happen without him.
Major spoilers for all upcoming dune novels.
villeneuve’s plan for a dune trilogy
Dune: Part One will take viewers roughly halfway through Frank Herbert’s first novel. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, the most spoiler-free way to say this is: The movie will end when Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) takes her place among the Fremen of Arrakis.
the plan for dune: part two will be to adapt the rest of the first book, which will (probably) include the characters of feyd (an evil counterpart to paul’s harkonnen), princess irulan (a woman paul will eventually marries for political convenience), emperor shaddam iv, and paul’s little sister, alia atreides, basically a super baby born with memories and knowledge beyond her years. Dune: Part Two will theoretically complete the story told in the Dune novel, which also focuses on Paul and Chani’s (Zendaya) relationship and their rise to become the ultimate power couple in the entire galaxy.
So, it’s two movies: dune: part one, the movie that opens this year, and if all goes according to plan, dune: part two, which ends the first book. The third film in this proposed trilogy adapts Frank Herbert’s second book Dune: Dune Messiah.
In various interviews, denis villeneuve has repeated a sentiment many times: he wants to make a trilogy of dune movies covering the events of dune and dune messiah. “There’s the second Dune book, ‘The Messiah of Dune,’ which could make an extraordinary movie,” Villeneuve said in August. “I always saw that there could be a trilogy.”
but why would you make a trilogy with only two books? well, dune messiah is considerably shorter than dune. Excluding the appendices and the glossary in the back, the story of the first dune is 794 pages long. dune: the first part will cover about 500 of those pages. so the second part will adapt approximately 300 pages from the first book.
however, dune messiah is only 336 pages in total, which probably explains why villeneuve is confident that he can adapt it with a single movie. Essentially, the story of what happens to Paul’s reign after the events of Dune is told in far fewer pages than the first novel. You could imagine that each installment of the Villeneuve trilogy could consist of movies (Part Two and Messiah) that are roughly the same length as Dune: Part One, but maybe even shorter.
so there you have it. Assuming box office numbers combined with HBO Max streaming views results in Warner Bros. Greenlighting a trilogy, the Dune de Villeneuve series will consist of: Dune: Part One, Dune: Part Two, and Dune Messiah.
will there be a dune sequel trilogy?
since villeneuve’s proposed trilogy only covers the first two books of six novels written by frank herbert, the next question is obvious: could there be even more dune movies after the hypothetical messiah of the dunes? (Because of all this material, you can see why some people are saying this should have been a TV series.)
if there’s another series of dune movies after dune messiah, it looks like those movies would go on without denis villeneuve.
“these are years of work; I can’t think of going any further than that,” Villeneuve told Indiewire.
You’re right. And, if you haven’t read all the books, what you might not know is that by the time you get past Dune Messiah, you won’t be dealing with any of the characters introduced in the first book/movie. The third book, Children of Dune, unsurprisingly focuses on Paul’s children, Leto II and Ghanima. In the fourth book, Leto II becomes the titular God Emperor of Dune, who, yes, is part human and part sandworm.
while dune and the messiah of dune remain in a relatively close time period, the sons of dune jump to the next generation and, by the god emperor of dune, we are 3500 years in the future. these books are not like the lord of the rings trilogy, where each installment happens right after the other. With those kinds of time jumps, you can see why Villeneuve would be nervous about committing to adapting the series beyond the second book.
but, let’s say someone (other than villeneuve) decided to make a movie series (maybe a trilogy) or streaming tv series adapting children of dune and god emperor of dune. even if that worked, you still have dune and chapterhouse heretics: dune. and both books are set even further into the future.
Heretics is set 1500 years after the god emperor and the chapter house after that. Thanks to serial cloning (called a ghola), the only character everyone likes who still exists in the future is Duncan Idaho. when you see dune: part one, this could be shocking. but yes, there are clones of duncan in the later books, even those set in the very distant future.
could jason momoa play the various cloned versions of duncan, spread across six, maybe seven, films, spanning thousands of years of science fiction history? Of course, the answer is: nobody knows. But, if there is a reason for audiences to keep coming back to this series, whether it stays in a movie series or not, coming to see Jason Momoa over and over again isn’t the worst motivation.
Initially, appletv+ figured out how to turn lee pace’s cloned emperor cleon into connective tissue for an equally ambitious sci-fi timeline. So if we do manage to make Dune go beyond the planned trilogy, the person holding it all together might not eventually be Denis Villeneuve, but maybe Jason Momoa.
dune: part one opens in theaters and on hbo max on October 22.