Dune (titled onscreen as Dune: Part One) is a 2021 American epic science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve from a screenplay by Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, and Eric Roth. It is the first part of a two-part adaptation of the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, primarily covering the first half of the book. Set in the distant future, the film follows Paul Atreides as his family, the noble House Atreides, is thrust into a war for the deadly and inhospitable desert planet Arrakis. The ensemble cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.
The film is the second theatrical adaptation of Dune following David Lynch’s 1984 film, which was a critical and commercial failure, and the third adaptation overall following both the David Lynch film and John Harrison’s 2000 miniseries. After an unsuccessful attempt by Paramount Pictures to produce a new adaptation, Legendary Entertainment acquired the Dune film and TV rights in 2016, with Villeneuve signing on as director in February 2017. Production contracts were only secured for the first film, relying on its success before a second film would be greenlit after the first film’s release. Filming took place from March to July 2019 at locations including Budapest, Jordan, Norway, and Abu Dhabi.
Dune was originally scheduled for a late 2020 release, but it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The film premiered the following year at the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 3, 2021, ahead of its international release on September 15, 2021. It was then released in United States theaters and streaming on HBO Max on October 22. The film received praise from critics for its visuals, musical score, ambition, performances, cinematography, direction, characters, and technical innovation, as well as for its faithfulness to the source material. It grossed $401 million worldwide on a production budget of $165 million. Organizations such as the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute named Dune as one of the top 10 films of 2021. Among its numerous awards and nominations, it received 10 nominations at the 94th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, and won the most awards of the ceremony with six: Best Sound, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects, and Best Cinematography. A sequel, Dune: Part Two, is set to be released on November 17, 2023.
In 2011, Mary Parent, vice chair of worldwide production for Legendary Entertainment, and Cale Boyter, her producer partner, managed to acquire adaptation rights. Eventually, Legendary acquired the film and TV rights for Dune on November 21, 2016. Variety reported in December 2016 that director Denis Villeneuve was in talks with the studio to direct the film. Villeneuve expressed his interest in the project in September 2016, saying that “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”. Villeneuve’s enthusiasm to direct a Dune film earned Parent’s respect, who called Villeneuve, and quickly hired him after Villeneuve described his vision for the film to her. He chose to complete his other films, such as Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), as he wanted to spend more time to develop the film and co-write it himself. He also felt “Dune is my world” due to his background in directing science fiction films. By February 2017, Villeneuve was officially confirmed to be directing the film.
Some of Villeneuve’s previous collaborators on the films Arrival and/or Blade Runner 2049 returned for Dune, including film editor Joe Walker, production designer Patrice Vermette, visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert, sound designer and editor Theo Green, sound editor Mark Mangini, and special effects supervisor Gerd Nefzer. Other previous collaborators were slated to work on Dune but dropped out before production began, including visual effects supervisor John Nelson and cinematographer Roger Deakins, who was replaced in December 2018 with Greig Fraser. Dune was produced by Villeneuve, Parent, and Cale Boyter, with Tanya Lapointe, Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt, Kim Herbert, Thomas Tull, Jon Spaihts, Richard P. Rubinstein, John Harrison, and Herbert W. Gain serving as executive producers and Kevin J. Anderson as creative consultant. Game of Thrones language creator David J. Peterson was confirmed to be developing languages for the film in April 2019.
- Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, ducal heir of House Atreides
- Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Paul’s Bene Gesserit mother and consort to Leto
- Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, Paul’s father and the leader of House Atreides
- Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, weapons master of House Atreides and one of Paul’s mentors
- Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, leader of House Harkonnen, enemy to House Atreides, and former steward of Arrakis
- Dave Bautista as Beast Rabban Harkonnen, nephew of Baron Harkonnen
- Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr. Liet Kynes, Imperial ecologist and Judge of the Change on Arrakis
- Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat, the Mentat of House Atreides
- Zendaya as Chani, a mysterious young Fremen woman who appears in Paul’s visions
- Chang Chen as Dr. Wellington Yueh, a Suk doctor in the employ of House Atreides
- Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Mohiam, the Emperor’s Bene Gesserit Truthsayer
- Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, the swordmaster of House Atreides and one of Paul’s mentors
- Javier Bardem as Stilgar, the leader of the Fremen tribe at Sietch Tabr
- David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries, the Mentat of House Harkonnen
- Babs Olusanmokun as Jamis, a Fremen from Sietch Tabr
- Golda Rosheuvel as Shadout Mapes, a Fremen working as a housekeeper for House Atreides
- Roger Yuan as Lieutenant Lanville, Gurney Halleck’s second-in-command
October 22, 2021
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