We’re headed back to Arrakis.
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is due for a sequel in 2023. The film first debuted in cinemas and on HBO Max in October 2021, but it was always the director’s plan to adapt Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel as a two-part saga. “This is only the beginning,” he previously said in a statement.
Here, we’re rounding up what we know about Dune: Part 2 so far.
Who’s in it?
Timothée Chalamet will once again star as Paul Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson as his mother, Lady Jessica. Zendaya will reprise her role as Chani, a Fremen woman Paul first encounters in his dreams. Others expected to return include Javier Bardem as Fremen leader Stilgar, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, and Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.
Florence Pugh is reportedly in talks for the role of Princess Irulan, daughter of Emperor Shaddam IV, who sent the Atreides family to Arrakis. According to The Hollywood Reporter, as of March 8, the deal is not yet final as Pugh is figuring out her schedule and wants to review the latest draft of the script, which is still being written. If confirmed, this will mark a reunion between Pugh and Chalamet, who both starred in 2019’s Little Women.
Christopher Walken has been cast as Emperor Shaddam IV. Meanwhile, Elvis star Austin Butler will play villain Feyd-Rautha, nephew of Baron Harkonnen and Paul’s rival. (The New York Times reports that he’s already started “intensive knife-fighting training” for the role.)
Léa Seydoux is in negotiations to play Lady Margot, a critical ally to Paul in his battle against House Harkonnen, Variety reports.
When will Dune: Part 2 be released?
The film will now hit theaters on Nov. 17, 2023, per Variety, instead of the original opening date of Oct. 20, 2023. While the first Dune began streaming the same day it arrived in cinemas, it’s unclear if the same will happen for the sequel now that COVID-19 protocols have eased up. In the meantime, Dune is now streaming on HBO Max.
Production on Dune: Part 2 was expected to start in the summer, but Deadline reports it will commence this fall.
What will it be about?
Even with a two and a half hour runtime, Dune part one left us asking some big questions, like, why didn’t we get more Zendaya? What will happen to Paul and his mother? Will there be more giant sand worms?
First, let’s backtrack. (Spoilers ahead!) The first film saw the powerful Atreides family take post in the desert planet of Arrakis to harvest a valuable spice, which led to a terrible clash with the rival House Harkonnen that left many dead, including Paul’s father, Duke Leto. Paul and his mother were exiled in the siege, and after trying to survive in the desert, they end up with a Fremen tribe led by Stilgar and including Chani.
We can look to the book for an idea of what happens next. According to Esquire, Paul rises the Fremen ranks, gets romantically involved with Chani, eventually rebels against Emperor Shaddam IV (Paul also marries his daughter, Princess Irulan), and faces House Harkonnen, namely his rival Feyd-Rautha. He also continues to step into the the messianic role of “Kwisatz Haderach.” Lady Jessica, who we know is pregnant by the end of the first film, gives birth to a daughter named Alia who wields significant Bene Gesserit powers.
In fact, we’ll see a lot more of the Harkonnens in the sequel. Villeneuve explained to IndieWire, “It’s like a chess game. Some new characters will be introduced in the second part, and a decision I made very early on was that this first part would be more about Paul Atreides and the Bene Gesserit, and his experience of being in contact for the first time with a different culture. Second part, there will be much more Harkonnen stuff.”
The director also told Empire that Feyd-Rautha “will be definitely a very, very important character in the second part” of Dune. Also, not all who are dead are really gone for good; “some will reappear out of the dust,” he added.
We can also, thankfully, expect to see more of Zendaya. She told Deadline one thing she’s looking forward to in part two: “Well, I can be there for longer, which is cool [laughs].”
She later added, “What was cool for me having not been around for much of the first shoot was getting to see the movie from a completely fresh perspective, because I hadn’t seen the sets and the scenes for most of the movie. And watching it felt like just the beginning of this story.”
Chalamet also told Deadline that there’s a lot more to come for all of the characters. “This story is far from finished,” he said. “These characters are far from their end points.”
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