Paramount May Lose <i>Dune</i> Rights

If rumors are to be believed, we'll see a Dune movie sooner rather than later. Not because all the pieces are falling into place on the latest big screen adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic SF novel, but because Paramount may lose the rights otherwise.

Deadline is reporting that Paramount has to put the movie into production by next spring if it is to hold onto the rights for Herbert's novel, which has been in development for four years at the studio. The project - which has a script but no director attached, as both Peter Berg and Pierre Morel have jumped ship for other movies - is said to be proceeding slowly at the studio, due in part to an expected $100million+ price tag, but that's too slowly for the Herbert estate; Richard Rubenstein, who controls the license, told the site,

We don’t want to extend an option and watch the studio take seven years. This is on a short tether. It's a major book franchise, you can’t walk into a store and not see a shelf full of Dune books.

While it's true that Dune is a literary success, it's also true that David Lynch's 1980s adaptation has demonstrated how hard it is to translate into a mainstream movie franchise, and may have poisoned audiences against the entire idea of a new version. Slow and steady may be the right approach here - but will Paramount manage to be quick enough with their slowness?

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