Denis Villeneuve is either trolling sci-fi fans or just really, really ambitious. The Canadian director, who's currently promoting Arrival and in production on the Blade Runner sequel, has just said he'd like to adapt Frank Herbert's Dune.
I find myself feeling bad for Villeneuve sometimes (and then I remember he's a well-off director with high-profile gigs). Especially recently when he talked about being rushed off his film Arrival so he could start on Blade Runner. And every time I talk about the movie people get angry. Considering his current work schedule I'm sure none of that negativity is getting to him. Yet. But Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is an untouchable classic to a lot of people and many don't see the point in a sequel at all.
Regardless, it's happening and while doing some recent press tours, Villeneuve told Variety he has a great love for sci-fi and revealed the project he'd love to get off the ground:
I had been wanting to do sci-fi for a very long time. “2001: A Space Odyssey” is a movie that really impressed me as a teenager. And also “Blade Runner.” And “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is also one of my favorites. I”m always looking for sci-fi material, and it”s difficult to find original and strong material that”s not just about weaponry. A longstanding dream of mine is to adapt “Dune,” but it”s a long process to get the rights, and I don”t think I will succeed. Also I would love to write something myself. I have two [sci-fi] projects right now that are in very stages. It”s too early to talk about them.
Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi book was famously adapted by David Lynch in 1984. It certainly has a cult-charm when viewed now but fans were pretty disappointed at the time (and I imagine still are to a point). A few years back we got to see Alejandro Jodorowsky's version of the film, as presented in Frank Pavich's documentary Jodorowsky's Dune (highly recommended), which was tremendously ambitious for the '70s, never mind today. Of course, the time is ripe for such an adaptation, which would better be served as a series of films in my mind.
So, what's the reality of Villeneuve actually getting to make it? The rights, as he mentioned, could be a problem. There was some movement on a Dune adaptation from Paramount back in 2010 but they decided to give it up not long after. The success of Arrival (it's been getting great reviews out of TIFF) and of course the success of the Blade Runner sequel (still no word on the plot of that one) will also factor in. If he knocks two sci-fi features out of the park I see no reason why a studio wouldn't jump to make his dream come true.