Last week, Warner Bros. Pictures announced that Dune: Part Two was being delayed from this November to March 15, 2024, due to the Hollywood strikes. Fans of director Denis Villeneuve’s grand take on Frank Herbert’s vaunted science-fiction saga were understandably disappointed, but a few days later, they got some good news. In an interview with Empire, Villeneuve shared new details about his plans for a potential Dune: Part Three.
It’s worth noting that Warner Bros. has yet to officially greenlight a third Dune movie at the time of writing. Presumably, its production will hinge on the success or failure of Dune: Part Two. The first Dune generated $400 million at the global box office despite being released at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and streaming simultaneously on HBO Max. Warner Bros. clearly has significantly higher expectations for the sequel, which is why the studio is willing to wait until its litany of stars can promote Dune: Part Two before putting it in theaters.
So what happens if Dune: Part Two is a hit?
“If I succeed in making a trilogy, that would be the dream,” Villeneuve told Empire in an interview for a recent cover story. He confirmed that he wants to adapt Dune Messiah for the third movie, which was the second of six Dune books author Frank Herbert wrote.
“Dune Messiah was written in reaction to the fact that people perceived Paul Atreides as a hero,” the director explained. “Which is not what he wanted to do. My adaptation [of Dune] is closer to his idea that it’s actually a warning.”
Villeneuve also indicated that a third Dune movie — if it gets made — would be his last, as “the books become more… esoteric” after Dune Messiah.
As frustrating as the Dune: Part Two delay might be for fans, it’s also likely the right move. The sequel’s box office returns need to blow past those of the first movie, and having stars Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and Florence Pugh making the rounds on talk shows, press tours, YouTube videos, and more will give it a significant boost. This delay may well end up being the difference between Warner Bros. ending the franchise or giving Villeneuve another shot.
As for Part Three, while there are no guarantees Warner Bros. will fund it, Villeneuve is confident enough that he has already put “words on paper.”