Denis Villenueve has an awful lot riding on Dune, from both a personal and professional standpoint. The last time he tackled a big budget sci-fi based on a beloved property, Blade Runner 2049 won enthusiastic reviews from critics and fans but flopped at the box office, losing Warner Bros. quite a bit of money.
Undeterred, the studio handed him $165 million shortly afterwards to mount Dune, on the provision that the filmmaker only adapt the first half of Frank Herbert’s novel to hold the rest back for a sequel. As a result, the most recurring criticism of the movie is that it feels like an incomplete story, and audiences will have to put their hands into their pockets to avoid it on HBO Max, see it in the theater and ensure it makes enough money to launch a franchise.
No wonder Villenueve described Dune as the “project of a lifetime” during a virtual appearance at Deadline‘s Contenders event, revealing that he’s envisioned bringing the story to the big screen since he was a teenager.
“When we read a book we have images in our mind. I was trying to honor those visions, that dream. It put a lot of pressure on my shoulders, to bring to life one of my oldest dreams. Trying to please that teenager was not an easy task.”
The good news is that Dune has already earned in excess of $100 million internationally ahead of its domestic rollout on the 22nd of this month, and a Chinese release could also generate some extra income. It’s being lauded as a modern sci-fi classic already, but watching it at home just wouldn’t be the same.