It seems the God Emperor may yet make it to the screens.
In a recent interview with The Playlist (via Variety), Dune co-writer Jon Spaihts let slip a few details about Warners’ future plans for the space epic. In terms of the films, director Denis Villeneuve has “talked seriously about” adapting Dune Messiah, the second book in author Frank Herbert‘s six-part novel series. Set a number of years after Dune, it “deconstructs Dune,” according to Spaihts, and “plays as a cautionary tale” with Paul facing challenges from within and without which not only challenge his rule, but his own assumptions about the future he foresaw in the desert. It also hints at some of the places Herbert goes in subsequent books. Dune Messiah‘s follow-up, Children of Dune, concludes the stories of characters introduced in the first book, while the fourth book, God Emperor of Dune, picks up the story thousands of years later.
And it seems, Spaihts is in charge of navigating that jump in time. Although originally set to produce the Dune: The Sisterhood television series, he told the site he “ended up getting moved off of it to work, not just on Dune: Part Two, but to investigate other cinematic prospects in the Dune universe.” We’re going to presume his mission is to build a pitch for the remaining novels past Dune Messiah that account for eventually losing all but one member of the cast and the filmmaker who made Dune as success. Beyond those practical production issues is Herbert’s tale itself. As the writer notes, it gets “stranger and more epic as it carries on” with the God Emperor setting up for an eventuality which will not occur for thousands of years after his death and the whole of humanity thrust into a new status quo because of his choices. It’s philosophical, sometimes obtuse, and interesting in all the ways that make it hard to adapt to a big budget studio film. But beyond the six novels Herbert wrote in his life time is the seventh he partially wrote. Completed by his son Brian Herbert and author Kevin J. Anderson, it concluded the initial Dune cycle, but also allowed the pair to carry on writing books within the universe.
We presume part of Spaihts job will be looking at those spinoff books for other movie or TV possibilities. In fact, we’d be shocked if The Sisterhood isn’t somehow based on Herbert and Anderson’s additions to Dune. Of course, it is interesting to note that Spaihts is no longer directly involved in the show and no updates on its progress are available. Despite the seeming synergy Warner Bros. Pictures and HBO Max are creating, it is possible Dune will be a cinematic experience only — which is oddly suiting considering the material.
Dune: Part 2 is set for release on October 20th, 2023.