Dune Part Two: Delayed Release Date And Casting Updates

The second half of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ moves into production this summer. Director Denis Villeneuve discusses the epic sci-fi action to come.

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Last fall, the first on-screen installment of Frank Herbert’s Dune widely impressed audiences. The ambitious project with a $165 million dollar budget paid off in abounds. With a striking score, stunning cinematography, and a star-studded cast, Dune was up for multiple categories at the 2022 Oscars.

Evidently, Villeneuve’s decision to split the first book into two films was vital to its success. In order to do Frank Herbert’s sci-fi staple justice and keep a reasonable run-time, two installments were the way to go.

This summer, the futuristic project continues full steam ahead. Though the release date has been pushed back a month to November 2023, filming has reportedly moved up schedule. Notably, Denis confirmed to Collider that the screenplay is finished, and the crew is in “full prep” to begin filming later this month.

Less Build-Up, More Action

Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, in Dune
Image via Warner Bros

Perhaps the one resounding complaint about the first half of Dune‘s screen adaptation is that it was over two hours of build-up, leaving off on a major cliffhanger. It doesn’t feel like a satisfying end because, well, it isn’t the end; it’s an intermission.

Dune: Part Two is supposed to pick up at the plot apex where it left off. With Paul Atreides’s newly-achieved position among the Fremen, the film will tackle the subsequent rebellion against Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken). And who can forget the imposing threat of House Harkonnen?

Evidently, the second installment’s emphasis on fast-paced plot is sure to please action-hungry audiences. Plus, fans will finally see a more complete on-screen role for Chani (Zendaya), who had a mere 7 minutes of screentime in Part One. I blame that letdown on a misleading amount of press participation for the first film, which made Zendaya seem like a headliner. This time, the press should match the product!

Villeneuve has also teased bringing one of the book’s most iconic moments to screen: Paul learning the skill of wormriding. After seeing the behemoth sand worms in Part One, this is sure to be nothing short of epic. As cinematographer Greig Frasier remarked: Part Two is going to be “bigger and better.”

Expanding the Cast

The plot is not the only thing Part Two is making “bigger and better.” To tell the breadth of this story, the cast of the Dune universe also has to grow. Since the spring, pivotal new casting decisions have been announced, adding to the prestige of this potential franchise.

At the top of that list is Florence Pugh, who is set to play Princess Irulan – a character who later becomes Paul Atreides’s (Timothee Chalamet) wife. For fans of Little Women (2019), this will be a comforting reunited duo to see. Also, as mentioned, Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV will be played by legendary actor Christopher Walken.

Finally, perhaps the most significant recent cast is Austin Butler as Paul’s bitter enemy, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. Butler, fresh off of his success in Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis, is set to hop from embodying music icon to a formidable sci-fi villain. I don’t know about you but I’m very excited to see how Butler transforms for this new role.

Villeneuve’s Vision

Villeneuve’s brilliant directorial direction for this beloved series may carry over to future film installments beyond Dune: Part Two. In a 2021 feature with Entertainment Weekly, Villeneuve said he “always envisioned three movies.”

Though we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, Villeneuve’s clear interest in adapting Herbert’s sequel, Dune: Messiah, is an exciting prospect. Also of note is the continuation of a musical score crafted by Hans Zimmer, who brought such an iconic, distinctive sound to Part One. In an interview with Inverse, Zimmer talked about “breaching out in the story musically” and relayed that he already knows “the structure of the score” given he sees both installments as one.

Lucidly, both Zimmer and Villeneuve are aiming for continuity in nailing down this second installment dedicated to the content of book one.

Image via Warner Bros

In the past, adaptations of this sci-fi classic have tried and failed, but Villeneuve’s efforts seem to be soaring toward futuristic film success. Too bad productions of this scale take so long to plan and execute!

Though we’re over a year out from a prospective release date, Part Two is shaping up to be another impressive cinematic experience.

If you’re antsy for more sci-fi content in the meantime, click here for more discourse and recommendations!