Geekery: Legendary Secures Rights to Dune

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Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi story changes hands again.

Legendary has acquired film and TV rights to Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic. No plans yet – that they’re talking about, anyway. The agreement ensures that  Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt (Frank’s grandson) and Kim Herbert (Frank’s granddaughter) will serve as executive producers on all projects that come from the deal.

Hollywood has take a few runs at adapting the book. Alejandro Jodorowsky pictured a grand, sci-fi epic steeped in psychedelia in the mid 1970s. He wrote a script for a 14 hour movie based in the original book, signed Pink Floyd on to do music, and booked a cast that included Salvador Dalí and Mick Jagger; but ultimately lost the project due to lack of funds.

We didn’t lose his vision completely – the concept that came out of the project is amazing. Jodorowsky brought on H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, and Mœbius to create the look of his film.

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When Jodorowsky lost the rights they were picked up by Dino De Laurentiis, and handed to an up and coming David Lynch after Ridley Scott decided to adapt a novel by Phillip K. Dick into one of the best movies ever made. The project was over budget, its initial box office take only covered 1/2 of its price tag. The merits of this version are heavily argued – some think it should be totally discounted, some think it’s a classic that was limited by the era it was made in. It has a bunch of failings for various reasons. The movie, however, has made a lasting impression in terms of design and what exactly sci-fi is allowed to look like.

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In 2000 Sci-Fi made a three part mini-series  starring Alec Newman and William Hurt. It has been one of their highest rated programs in the last 16 years, and is considered to be a more faithful and complete adaptation. It looks and sounds like a Sci-Fi miniseries from the early aughts, which may make it un-watchable to some. It was followed by Children of Dune in 2013.

Paramount had plans for it in 2008 with director Peter Berg and screenwriter Joshua Zetumer. The project collapsed after 2 years of attempted development, and Paramount dropped its interest in the rights in 2011.

So, here we are. Dune is in new hands.

Where do you want to see this go?

  • polyquaternium7

    He who Controls the Rights, Controls the Universe!!

  • vlad78

    Indeed the series is totally unwatchable. Yet it was aestheticaly heavily inspired by Lynch movie which was very good imho while not as good as Lynch could have done if the studio had given him more freedom.

    Jodorowsky’s version would probably have been awesome but it wouldn’t have been faithful to Herbert’s vision at all. Herbert was deeply humanist and rationalist, even God was only a byproduct of humanity, Jodorowsky’s version would have been much more mystical and esoteric.

    • euansmith

      I’ve never really been able to get into Jodorowsky’s work; maybe its the translation or the misogyny. He seems to be wildly popular, so maybe I’m missing something.

      • polyquaternium7

        personally I like the comics (the Metabarons, and Incal) written by Jodorowsky, somehow for me it translates his stories much better than his movies do.

        • euansmith

          It was actually his writing on Metabarons that put me off 😀 I picked it up because of the cool artwork. Maybe I should give him another go sometime.

  • Valeli

    I’d love to see this finally get done due justice in theaters, or as a (quality) TV series. We certainly have the computer tech to bring it to life in an amazing way now, and we’ve also proven that we can put out genuinely good stuff on cable tv. I think it would almost make a better Cable series than movie actually, just because there’s so much to the book that’s a shame to cut in order to fit a 2 (or 3) hour cap.

    That said, I’m skeptical I’d love what comes out. There’s so many ways to go wrong on this project, and that includes trying to bring the Jodorowsky version back from the dead. I’m sure that would have been pretty amazing given the people involved in it, but trying to recreate stuff like that with a different set of people… I don’t know.

    I’m also not a fan of the (imo) cheap pulp fiction put out by Brian Herbert. I really feel like those million books were just abusing fanboyism and Frank’s original IP for easy money. Having him deeply involved in a movie/cable series would, I don’t think, be beneficial (although yeah, he obviously has rights to the estate…. so what are you going to do).

    • vlad78

      Indeed, Brian just butchered his father’s universe. But at least it gave clues about what Frank had in mind and never had the time to put on paper.

      • petrow84

        I started Dune with the Prelude trilogy, and it helped me all the better to understand Frank Herbert’s masterpiece later. There were some blatant, stupid action scenes, true, but overall, it was a good warm-up for Dune.

        I might be the minority, but also enjoyed the closing in Sandworms of Dune. However, Hunters of Dune was plain bad and completely unnecessary. The Legends trilogy, and the following works are better to be forgotten.

  • Le_smee

    Jodorowsky was a madman, running around making all sorts of promises he’d never be able to keep.

    • He spent somewhere around $2 million (around $10 million in today’s money) in pre-production over three years. I’m not sure why the folks holding the purse strings gave him that much time.

      He’s a visionary – which tends not to come with a full grasp on how much things cost.

  • generic eric

    28mm tabletop game? Monsterous & Super Monsterous sandworms?

    • Xodis

      Its probably right behind that 28mm Starwars miniature war game FFG is working on lol.

    • petrow84

      I was toying with the idea of making an alternative rule-set for Deadzone, with Fremens and Harkoonen soldiers.

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

    Less trees, more forest, please. If they want it, give it to the Wachowskis, or an A-lister with a good space-opera pedigree.

    • euansmith

      I’d rather see the Wachowskis keep working on things like Sense8. That was a real passion piece for them, and it showed.

      As long as Zach Snyder, Michael Bay or Uwi Bol aren’t attached to the project, things should turn out okay 😀

  • Sebastien Bazinet

    Now FFG can ditch Rex and reprint Dune!!!

  • ctFallen

    Now if only they would give up the rights for other merchandise and we could get some tabletop games in the universe.

  • af

    Great. Another remake.

    Here’s my forecast for Hollywood the next few years:

    – King Kong remake.
    – Dune remake.
    – Spiderman reboot (we get to see the spider bite, “with great power…”, etc).
    – Superman reboot (we get to see him as a baby).
    – Batman reboot (his parents are killed.. again).
    – King Kong remake.
    – Spiderman II, new villain.
    – New Superman reboot (the other one sucked).
    – Batman introduces the Joker.
    – Dune remake.
    – Spiderman reboot. Mid-production, another reboot of the reboot starts. We get two almost simultaneous versions of the spider bite.
    – King Kong remake. Kong is even bigger.
    – Fantastic Four reboot. Everyone hates it, plus it doesn’t have Jessica Alba.
    – Batman looks dated now, time to reboot it.
    – Dune remake, because the last one looked really silly.

    … gazillions of years later…

    – Heat death of the universe.
    – The universe gets a reboot.

    • Xodis

      – The universe gets a reboot.
      JJ Abrams directs?

      • zeno666

        Yes, and adds a lot of lense flares 😉

      • polyquaternium7

        Unless it’s Michael Bay, then instead of one big bang, we get a gratuitous amount of bing bangs and American flags, lots and lots of cgi, but no actual content.

    • MightyOrang

      You forgot the Spider-Man reboots in 2022, 2025, 2027, 2031, and 2032

    • Dennis J. Pechavar

      Mecha Kong will be great, both versions of it. Also you forgot the 3 new Alien movies coming out…also Predator.

  • Simon Chatterley

    Having seen how beautifully Westworld has been recreated I’m allowing myself to get a little excited that Dune gets the same love. It’s an amazing universe with rich stories and if done right could be awesome.

  • SonoftheMountain

    I really think with the right people behind the scenes this could be the next Game of Thrones.

    As to who those behind the scenes people are? I have no idea

  • MightyOrang

    I’d like to see HBO give it the full GOT treatment — program out the first 6 books (you know, the good ones) to run out over 6-10 years

    • petrow84

      Well, the second trilogy’s tone and storyline differs so much from the first, that it would be nigh impossible to put onto screen with the same consistency.
      Like the first 3 season of GoT would be a decade in the Age of Heroes, the second 3 in the Age of Valyria, encompassing 1,5 decades, while the closing with the actual events.

      If GoT treatment, I’d take the prelude trilogy along with the original trilogy – that would be enough source material for nearly a decade.

  • petrow84

    Sad thing, that with all the source material made for the 1984 movie (sources say 14 to 30 hours) a good movie could be put together, were Lynch allowed it to re-cut…

    • euansmith

      I really liked the way that everything in that film appeared to have been designed specifically for the setting; even the Reverend Mother’s pen set.

      • Herbert reportedly approved of the visuals of the movie.

    • That’s assuming he’d want to – he’s described the process as a nightmare and hasn’t made a major feature since.

      • petrow84

        Yeah, he’s the main obstacle in the way. Stone recut Alexander the Great four times, while Snyder’s Watchmen has about 3 different editions.