Legendary Entertainment is turning their attention toward one of the most beloved sci-fi epics of all time, recently acquiring the rights to Frank Herbert’s Dune, a sprawling and notoriously difficult story to translate from prose.
The deal was announced earlier this week, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, giving Legendary the rights to adapt Dune for both TV and film. The studio has previously produced hits like The Dark Knight, Godzilla, Interstellar, and Pacific Rim, amid a host of other films, giving fans hope that Herbert’s classic novel may finally get the adaptation it deserves. The agreement between Legendary and Herbert’s estate calls for the development of projects aimed at a “global audience,” to be produced by Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, and Cale Boyter. Notably, the author’s son, Brian Herbert, is listed as an Executive Producer alongside Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert, as Variety reports.
— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) November 21, 2016
Dune has been filmed several times in the past, yet the iconic story has consistently proven a challenge to bring to the screen. The first major adaptation of Dune, directed by David Lynch, hit theaters in 1984, and though it was thought of as a flop at the time, it has since gone on to achieve cult status. It was proceeded by Alejandro Jodorowsky’s sprawling but ultimately failed attempt to film Dune, which began in 1973 and formed the basis for a documentary released in 2014. The early 2000s saw the release of two made-for-TV miniseries, Frank Herbert’s Dune and Children of Dune, but no adaptation has been green-lit since.
We have reached agreement with Legendary Entertainment on DUNE-series film and TV rights. More details on Facebook page brianherbertnovels. pic.twitter.com/shP2uHZZEW
— Brian Herbert (@DuneAuthor) November 22, 2016
Part of the challenge of bringing Dune to the screen is the broad scope of the story, along with the depth and complexity of the world in which it takes place. Dune deals with a wide range of topics, including ecology, politics, and religion, set against the backdrop of a distant future in which mankind is both biologically and technologically advanced. In this future, however, “Thinking Machines” have been outlawed, generations after a galactic Jihad between man and sentient computers.
The novel tells the story of Paul Atreides, a noble whose family accepts control of the planet Arrakis, source of the most valuable commodity in the universe, a drug known as spice. The political center of power in the empire, Arrakis is highly contested among the galaxy’s noble families, and when Paul’s house is betrayed by their arch-nemesis, he sets out on a journey of redemption that sees him fomenting a rebellion to take back control of the planet.
— io9 (@io9) November 21, 2016
Dune bears a number of similarities to other successful epics like Star Wars, The Hunger Games, and Lord of the Rings, and is comparable in scope to Tolkien’s masterwork. It has been described as analogous to Game of Thrones, with its wide spectrum of warring noble houses. This comparison has resonated with fans, a number of whom have suggested in the wake of the Legendary deal that the studio approach the project as a long-term television series, instead of truncating the story to fit a movie format. Others have cited the fact that the universe of Dune encompasses roughly 20 or so novels (six of which were written by Herbert before his death) to suggest that the best way to approach such a dense and complex epic would be to create a shared world in which multiple projects could exist, similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
At this point, there are few details and no evidence that Legendary plans to create anything beyond a straightforward adaptation of Herbert’s novel, as io9 points out. With both television and film cited in the deal, however, fans are already hoping that the full, decades-long arc of the Dune epic will soon make its way to the screen.