The cinematic retelling of Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel Dune premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and even if it didn’t completely win over critics, the film’s visuals got high ratings. After the COVID-19 lockdown caused movie theaters around the world to close their doors, streaming stepped up to the plate. Now, theaters are back, and they want people to return – especially for Dune, or even a Dune 2.
Warner Bros. promised that their entire 2021 release slate would be accessible through HBO Max just as they would be in theaters, including Dune, which the studio granted an impressive $165 million budget to. In spite of fears of box office bombs, director Denis Villeneuve is determined to make Dune 2.
Even if Dune does not warrant Dune 2 to follow up on Villeneuve’s epic space opera, HBO Max has ordered a spin-off series, Dune: The Sisterhood to supplement the first movie. The series will serve as a prequel to Dune and will be presented through the mysterious order, the Bene Gesserit. If the HBO Max series and the dual-release strategy strike success, there could be the possibility for HBO Max and Legendary Entertainment to hear the demands for more Dune past their first two Dune titles. Ultimately, Dune 2 will earn its greenlight based on how well the movie performs on HBO Max.
Villeneuve says his particular take on Dune — and by extension the possible sequel Dune 2 — is a critique of the repetition of white saviors in media. Dune draws heavy inspiration from North African and Middle Eastern cultures with Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), the “chosen one,” set up to swoop and save the day. The director is well aware of the critiques around the white savior trope that have been concreted into the film’s source material.
“It’s a very important question. It is why I thought that Dune is,” he said, “When I’m reading it, relevant. It’s a critique of that. It’s not a celebration of a savior. It’s a critique, it’s a combination of that criticism of that idea of a savior, of someone that will come and tell another population how to be and what to believe and try to tell them how… so it’s not a condemnation but a criticism. That’s the way I feel it’s relevant and that can seem contemporary. That’s what I will say about that. Yeah. Frankly, it’s the opposite.” If Villeneuve is to tackle Dune 2, there are implications that he will continue to critique the glorification around the white savior theme in his sequel.
It’s been reported that if Dune 2 is to happen, Zendaya will shift roles from a supporting character to the lead protagonist. Chani Kynes becomes more prominent during the second half of Herbert’s novel, which would make sense as to why Zendaya’s relevancy will support a possible sequel while keeping Atreides firmly in the picture. With or without a sequel in the works, Dune hits theaters and HBO Max on October 22, 2021.