Dune Fans Spent Millions To Make A Dune Series, But There’s A Major Problem

By Doug Norrie | 4 months ago


A group of investors and fans of Dune have gotten together to purchase a copy of a book related to the Frank Herbert novel with big plans on how to use it to bring more stories to this universe. And they paid a hefty sum for the honor. But their plans might be a bit flawed and there is some chance they’ve completely overspent on the title. That’s because while the group Spice DAO paid more than $3 million dollars for a copy of a spec-script “bible” related to Dune, it’s unlikely they will actually be able to do anything with it when it comes to new stories or productions for this franchise. 

The Spice DAO (short for decentralized autonomous organization) posted on their Twitter account that they had won the rights to a Dune spec script originally produced by Alejandro Jodorowsky when the filmmaker was attempting a movie adaptation back in the 1970s. The Spice group outlined what they planned to do with this book and their vision around bringing more to this franchise including an animated series. Check out their plans before we get to some of the potential flaws in the plan. 

Okay, so for starters, this idea about a Dune animated series would be an exciting one. The world created by Frank Herbert in the original novel is such a rich one that creating an animated series around Arrakis and all of its inhabitants would likely be welcome on any platform. It’s just the kind of project that I already wish we had. The issue, it would seem, for Spice DAO is that while they paid a massive amount for this Dune book, obtaining it doesn’t actually give them any kind of rights to the franchise itself. 

The rights to make Dune films or other works belong to Legendary Entertainment who purchased them from the estate of Frank Herbert back in 2016. They eventually partnered with Warner Bros. to bring the most recent movie to the big and small screen in the fall of last year. If more projects were to come in the world of Dune (and there is a sequel on the way), it would have to come from Legendary. Spice DAO owning the Jodorowsky book doesn’t mean much of anything when it comes to making a proposed limited series to sell to a streaming service. It just doesn’t work that way. 

The most recent film adaptation of Dune, coming from director Denis Villeneuve, released back in October both in theaters and on HBO Max. It earned about $400 million at the box office, a number that would have been much higher had it seen an exclusive theatrical release. And it was a hit with critics as well, scoring 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Dune: Part Two, which will cover the second half of the novel, is already in the works with filming planned to start as early as July of this year. 

Look, I’m as much a fan of Dune as anyone and would welcome more projects in this world immediately. An animated series sounds fantastic. And producing it through a DAO sounds even better. But unless I’m missing something, this just isn’t how the copyrighting process works. For what it’s worth, Dune will enter the public domain in 2060. But I don’t think this group was planning on waiting that long.