Denis Villeneuve Was the Only One Who Imagined Dune: Part Two Not Happening

With Dune: Part Two about to hit theaters, it’s easy to forget a time when that wasn’t a certainty. When the first film was released in 2021, it was advertised as just “Dune.” Some fans knew it was only the first half of Frank Herbert’s book, made and released with a hope and a prayer that, if it was a success, the second half would come out later. But most moviegoers did not. They probably expected the full story and only got a taste.

In choosing to make only half of the story, there was a distinct possibility during the making and lead-up to Dune: Part One that Part Two would never happen. The whole thing was a gamble. A gamble that, in talking to people involved, was much riskier on the outside looking in. Recently, io9 sat down with the director of both films, Denis Villeneuve, and a few of his stars to discuss their perspective on the situation.

“The thought [of Dune Part Two never happening] occurred to me as I was shooting Part One, when I was in the desert,” Villeneuve told io9. “I remember saying to myself, ‘Enjoy the moment, because you might not come back here with these characters.’ It was part of the gambling I was doing [with the adaptation]. But I knew once the movie was finished that Legendary was absolutely pleased and happy with the movie. And, I got the assurance very quickly, in fact, that, there would be a Part Two no matter what happened. But let’s say that as I was shooting, I was remembering that I had to be at peace that that could be it.”

Dune: Part One opened, both in theaters and streaming on Max (then HBO Max) on October 21, 2021. The official news of Part Two came a mere five days later, after a successful $41 million opening weekend. So while the public was left in the dark, people behind the scenes had a strong inkling.

The Baron was sure Dune Part Two was happening.
Image: Warner Bros.

I only heard rumblings that there might not be a second film,” star Dave Bautista, who plays Glossu Rabban, told io9. “We never had that official conversation with Denis. I think he always had confidence that there would be. I think he’s, a person who has a vision and he doesn’t stray from that vision. I think his vision was never one film, so I think he never abandoned that. So we never had the conversation.”

“And I also was pretty confident because I saw the first film and I was like, ‘It’s amazing,’” he continued. “It’s not only beautiful storytelling, but it just really cuts off and it leaves you hanging. And I didn’t see a world where people wouldn’t want to have closure on that. So I never I never lost faith at all.”

Stellan Skarsgård, who plays Rabban’s evil, powerful uncle Baron Harkonnen, had a similar point of view. “I don’t think I had [Part Two not happening] in my mind because, I know [Denis] is a fantastic filmmaker,” Skarsgård told io9. “He has loved this project very long. He’s carried it since his childhood. So [I knew] the first one would be good.”

Which it was, Part Two was announced, and now it’s hitting theaters March 1. But for a few minutes, out there in the desert, there was that glimmer that it wouldn’t happen. Thankfully, it did.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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