Ridley Scott Reveals Why He Abandoned Dune Adaptation

By Doug Norrie | 2 months ago

ridley scott

Ridley Scott just had another star-studded movie hit the big screen in the last couple of weeks which has garnered a fair amount of attention both for its storyline and how it handled something of a delicate subject. But in an interview with Total Film (via GamesRadar), Ridley Scott was able to reflect on a movie he was supposed to make years ago that he ended up stepping away from though for something of an odd reason. It may be easy to forget now, but Scott was in line to direct an adaptation of Dune back in the early 1980s but left the production because he didn’t like where it was going to be filmed. 

In the interview, Ridley Scott discussed how around the time he was coming out with Alien and Blade Runner, he was also approached by the studio and some writers to do an adaptation of the Frank Herbert classic Dune. Scott says in the interview that the script they had for the movie was going to be very good, but it also was set to be a very expensive production. This makes sense considering the size and scope of the story. Heck, we just saw as much in the most recent adaptation. 

But Ridley Scott was still interested in making Dune so in 1979 he and a crew visited Mexico City as a possible filming location. This was going to be the place because it would allow the studio to really save money on nearly everything. It was while there that Scott came to the conclusion that he wasn’t going to be involved with the movie, not able to entertain the idea of spending a whole lot of time in Mexico City in the early 80s. Check out what Ridley Scott had to say about the decision:

“And with the greatest respect to Mexico City, in those days (it was) pretty pongy. I didn’t love it. I went to the studio in Mexico City where the floors were Earth floors in the studio…And so I actually backed out and instead moved on to Legend”


So even with a solid script and studio backing, Ridley Scott decided against the first-ever adaptation of Dune. Scott had discussed his decision to walk away from Dune before though had used different reasoning for the decision. In a biography about his life, Ridley Scott: The Making of his Movies, Scott said that after seven months of working on the film he realized there were still years to go before it would be done. And he also referenced that the death of his brother Frank during this time influenced his decision to walk away. It is likely a convergence of factors that led to him stepping aside, the location being just one of them. 

After Ridley Scott left the Dune adaptation, David Lynch stepped in and ultimately made the first version of the film. That came out in 1984 and was a mixed bag in terms of reception and box office bomb in terms of ticket sales. This year, Denis Villeneuve released the updated adaptation in theaters and on HBO Max. It was considerably better received and there is a sequel on the way with the movie only covering the first half of the original novel. 

As for Ridley Scott, his House of Gucci hit theaters a couple of weeks ago. It stars Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, and others in a retelling of the murder and deceit that surrounded the titular fashion line.