Hollywood’s second stab at Frank Herbert’s Dune — hopefully not as financially disastrous as its David Lynch-helmed first — is still en route, and it’s worth remembering that it only tackles the first half of the first book. Provided everything goes according to plan (i.e., it doesn’t lose money for Warner Bros.) director Denis Villeneuve will start shooting the second half sometime soon. And when it does, it sounds like the second part will take a pretty surprising approach.
In a new interview with the Italian magazine Il Venerdì di Repubblica (and translated by IGN), Villeneuve talks about how he “can’t wait to shoot the second part of Dune,” in part because he can’t wait to reunite stars Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya. But there’s another reason, which is that, as he said, “in the next chapter Zendaya will be the protagonist of the story.”
To those who’ve read any (or all) of Herbert’s six Dune novels (and maybe even the continuations and prequels and such written after his death in 1986), this is a unique way to adapt the maiden voyage. The first Dune is a hero’s story, following Chalamet’s Paul Atreides from royal scion to Messiah-like savior. Zendaya’s character, Chani — one of the Fremen, who live in remote parts of the desert planet of Arrakis — plays a key role, but Herbert’s story isn’t about her journey. It’s about Paul’s.
But maybe movie adaptations should be more creative, especially nowadays, when any deviation from a popular source enrages fans across social media. In the novel, and in both Lynch’s film and the early aughts Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, Chani is barely seen until the second half, appearing only in dreams. So we’ll see how Villeneuve and his screenwriters work around that, and how they apparently shift protagonists mid-stream.
Dune hits theaters and HBO Max on October 22.