Everything we know about Dune: Part Two and Three
Picture via Warner Bros/HBO
*Warning: This article will contain spoilers for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, as well as light spoilers for parts of Frank Herbert’s Dune yet to be adapted for the screen*
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is built on the assumption that we’ll get to see more of it.
From the briefest glimpses we get of intriguing characters from the likes of Zendaya and Charlotte Rampling, to the rumblings of gigantic plot threads - including intergalactic political intrigue, murder and the emergence of a long-prophecised messiah - left hanging… we mean, the film literally opens with the title card Dune: Part One.
Denis Villeneuve’s expansive, contemplative sci-fi epic spends most of its 155-minute run time building bigger and bigger and bigger until it slightly subverts itself. Ending not with an epic battle on the planet Arrakis between Duke Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and the villainous House Harkonnen (lead by an increasingly slug-like Stellan Skårsgard), but instead focusing on Paul’s decision to join the native Fremen tribe (lead by Javier Bardem and featuring Zendaya as the mysterious Chani) and disappear (literally) beneath the dunes.
The question of whether Dune would get a sequel has been posed since before the first film was even released. Conceived as a two-parter but with only the first half commissioned, both box office expectations and the film’s reception on streaming service HBO Max will decide its fate (critical acclaim seems covered - Rotten Tomatoes calculates the film has received an 83% positive reaction).
Speaking to Deadline in October, Warner Bros CEO Ann Sarnoff said “will we have a sequel to Dune? If you watch the movie you see how it ends. I think you pretty much know the answer to that.” Sounds like it’s in the bag really!
Now, Denis V himself has said that a third Dune movie is likely to be green-lit. In a recent interview with Screen Daily, the filmmaker expressed confidence in a sequel based on Frank Herbert’s Dune Messiah. “I think Dune Messiah would be a beautiful film,” he told writer Dan Jolin. “And it would complete Paul Atreides’ journey. But I’m going one movie at a time. It’s so difficult, and I’m a bit lazy! But I think three movies is a possibility.”
We think so too, Denis. As such, here is everything we know so far about both Dune: Part Two and the (admittedly more hypothetical) Dune: Part Three.
What would Dune: Part Two cover?
Roughly, it would cover the second half of Frank Herbert’s Dune novel - where Paul joins the Fremen and plots both the downfall of House Harkonnen, but also reckoning with his own identity as the Kwisatz Haderach, a messiah-like figure who will be tasked with leading the future of humanity.
Would we finally get to see more of Zendaya?
In a nutshell; yes. Zendaya’s inclusion in the film itself is a little misleading given her dominance of its marketing, but if anything her character Chani only makes sense given the (very large) role she’ll play in the sequel, and in Paul’s life in general.
We know this for certain, because director Denis himself has promised that if we get a sequel, Zendaya will be a major part of it.
When is Dune: Part Two released?
Sadly, Dune: Part Two had yet to be greenlit. But going on speculation alone, if the film was to be announced at the end of the year so filming could start following Timmy’s Hot Wonka prequel, we wouldn’t expect to see Dune: Part Two in cinemas before 2024 at the least.
Needless to say, a few years break between films would serve the story incredibly well, given there’s a time jump about halfway through the original novel (it’s as if they’d planned it all along!).
Who joins the cast of Dune: Part Two?
No cast announcements for the sequel have been made yet, but a whole bunch of new characters could be seen. Chief of them all, there’s the mysterious Emperor of Dune’s Imperial Empire, Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, whose political machinations were hinted at many times in the first film. (Fun fact: in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ill-fated attempt to make the first Dune film in the 70s, he wanted Salvidor Dalí to play the Emperor).
The Emperor’s daughter, Princess Irulan, also has to be introduced, as does the sadistic nephew of Baron Harkonnen, Feyd-Rautho (memorably played by Sting and his codpiece in David Lynch’s Dune). There could be a whole host of other characters introduced thanks to the novel’s time jump too…but those would spoil the plot too much to reveal just yet.
Will there be a Dune: Part Three?
There’s definitely room for further sequels. Frank Herbert’s original Dune series comprises of six whole novels, and countless other prequels, spin-offs and continuations have spawned following the author’s death in 1986.
Denis V has said previously that he had always envisioned a two-part Dune duology based on the first book, and then a sequel based on the book’s own sequel, Dune Messiah. After his comments to Screen Daily: that Dune Messiah would make for “a beautiful film” that would “complete Paul Atreides’ journey”, we’re even more confident in this eventuality.
What would Dune: Part Three cover?
A third Dune film would ostensibly be based on Frank Herbert’s second novel in the original series, Dune Messiah. The story takes place twelve years after the events of the original Dune novel, following Paul as he struggles against the threat of an unstoppable religious juggernaut. I mean, we’re here for it!