Frank Herbert's best-selling sci-fi novel, Dune, was first published in 1965 as part of two serials in Analog magazine. An examination of politics, religion, ecology, technology and human emotion, Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, whose noble family assumes control of the barren desert planet Arrakis, home to the most important and valuable substance in the universe, melange, or "spice," a drug that enhances mental function.
Hailed by some critics as the best science fiction novel of all time, Dune tied for the Hugo Award in 1966 and won the first ever Nebula Award for Best Novel. Fellow science fiction writer, and screenwriter of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke described Dune as "unique," while noting no other novel compares to it other than J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy epic, The Lord of the Rings.
The success of Dune spawned a series of novels from Herbert, and eventually his son, Brian, and frequent collaborator Kevin J. Anderson, before hitting the big screen in 1984 with an adaptation from filmmaker David Lynch. Lynch's adaptation was critically panned and became a box office flop, failing to recoup its budget of $40 million.
The Syfy channel (then the Sci-Fi channel) adapted Dune in the form of a miniseries helmed by director John Harrison in the year 2000, which earned two Emmy Awards for cinematography and visual effects. Harrison followed it up with another miniseries in 2003, adapting the second and third novels in the Dune series, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune.
Legendary Pictures acquired the rights to a film adaptation of Dune in late 2016, with French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve being announced as director by Brian Herbert at the end of January in 2017. Villeneuve has been a hot commodity in Hollywood since breaking into the mainstream, with several critically acclaimed films already under his belt including 2013's Prisoners, 2015's Sicario, 2016's Arrival and 2017's Blade Runner 2049.
Six-time Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, and winner for Forrest Gump, Eric Roth, was tapped to pen the script for Legendary Pictures' reboot of Dune in April of 2017, while casting for the film began in July of last year with Call Me By Your Name breakout Timothée Chalamet being the first cast member announced. Further casting has included Mission: Impossible star Rebecca Ferguson, Thor alum Stellan Skarsgård, Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista and Charlotte Rampling, with Star Wars actor Oscar Isaac, Spider-Man alum Zendaya and Academy Award-winning actor Javier Bardem currently in talks to board the adaptation.
Fans of Herbert's novel have been clamoring for a better film adaptation ever since Lynch's version crashed and burned at the box office nearly 35 years ago. It appears likely that, with Legendary Pictures' Dune reboot, fans are finally going to get the proper adaptation they've been dreaming of. In fact, the Dune reboot could very well end up becoming science fiction's very own version of Peter Jackson's celebrated fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. It would certainly be fitting, given that both novels sit as the gold standards in their respective genres.
Jackson's The Lord of the Rings earned a staggering 30 Academy Awards nominations across the three films, winning a record 17, including all 11 it was nominated for with the final film in the trilogy, The Return of the King. Prior to Guillermo del Toro's 2017 romantic fantasy film The Shape of Water winning Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards, The Return of the King had been the only genre film to ever win the Academy's top prize.
While 2018's Black Panther has the opportunity to join The Return of the King and The Shape of Water as the only genre films to take home Best Picture, it remains a long-shot against films like Roma and Green Book. For fans of superhero, fantasy and science fiction movies, the Academy almost never caters to them. However, that may change with Dune, and for good reason.
The level of talent attached to the Dune reboot is frankly astonishing, and it all starts with the director, Denis Villeneuve. Villeneuve first broke into more mainstream Hollywood with the 2013 psychological thriller, Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography. Gyllenhaal also starred in Villeneuve's other pscyhological thriller released in 2013, Enemy. Both films were positively received by critics, earning Rotten Tomatoes scores of 82 percent and 74 percent, respectively.