Dune Prequel Reveals It’s Ignoring Actors Strike

By Kevin C. Neece | Updated

Rebecca Ferguson in Dune: Part One

The Max Dune prequel series Dune: The Sisterhood will start production again in Budapest “any day now,” despite the SAG-AFTRA strike, sources close to the production have told Deadline, because the production is operating under the rules of British Equity. Though some members of the American actors guild are involved in the production, SAG-AFTRA has advised them to keep working.

Dune: The Sisterhood, Max’s Dune prequel series, will not shut down production because it’s operating under British Equity rules.

Though they do have the option to not show up for work in solidarity with their union, there are strict anti-strike laws in the UK that would means they could be sued by producers if they chose to do so.

The Dune prequel joins HBO series Industry and House of the Dragon, whose productions will also continue despite the SAG-AFRA and WGA strikes for the same reason. While the American film industry continues slowing and stopping its gears within the states, productions that employ professionals in trade unions based in other countries will largely continue, depending upon attendant guild rules.

The Sisterhood‘s persistence, then, is not in defiance of the American union strikes, but in keeping with rules set in both the US and the UK.

The success of Dune and the buzz around its forthcoming sequels has led to Max’s greenlighting of the prequel production, which features Emily Watson, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, and Shalom Brune Franklin, though there have been recent shake-ups both in front of and behind the camera.

Director Johan Renck left the production earlier in 2023, along with co-showrunner, writer, and creator Diane Ademu-John. Actors Indira Varma and Shirley Henderson also exited, though their departures were unrelated.

The gaps in the Dune prequel have meant the addition of Olivia Williamsas Tula Harkonnen, the part previously played by Henderson, and Jodhi May, who is taking over for Varma in the role of Natalya. Alison Schapker will now be the lone showrunner, with Anna Foerster taking the directing reins for several of the series’ episodes in place of Renck.

The Sisterhood‘s persistence, then, is not in defiance of the American union strikes, but in keeping with rules set in both the US and the UK.

The Max and Legendary Television co-production had been on a planned hiatus following the start of production back in November.

The Origins Of Dune: The Sisterhood

For those who didn’t realize Dune had a prequel, it might be reassuring to know that the series has not been invented out of whole cloth, but rather is based on the novel Sisterhood of Dune, which was written by the author of the original novel’s son, Brian Herbert, with Kevin J. Anderson and published in 2012.

dune prequel
Sisterhood of Dune, the source material for Dune: The Sisterhood

Don’t worry about spoilers for the films based on the original novel either. The story is set 10,000 years before those events and concerns the foundation of the Bene Gesserit by the Harkonnen Sisters in a bid to save humanity.

With Dune‘s first sequel set to release this autumn and another already planned, the prequel series is capitalizing on renewed interest in Herbert’s legendary sci-fi universe, which was spawned by the Oscar-winning Denis Villeneuve film, which stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides. Previous adaptations of the novels have included a 1980s film featuring Sting and the early-2000s miniseries Children of Dune. Dune: The Sisterhood will most likely premiere on Max in 2024.