Legendary Entertainment has acquired the rights from Frank Herbert’s estate for his iconic novel Dune. This should allow the studio to produce film and television projects, amounting to a possible franchise for the studio.
Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, whose family accepts control of the desert planet Arrakis. As the only producer of a highly valuable resource, control of the planet is highly contested among the noble families. After Paul and his family are betrayed, the story explores themes of politics, religion, and man’s relationship to nature as he leads a rebellion to restore his family’s control of Arrakis.
Legendary is clearing looking at this project as a possible franchise, and the book itself sets things up for several movies. To do the story justice, it actually needs more than one film. In this case, the agreement would allow them to do any number of film and TV adaptations which could make-up a Dune franchise.
In 1973, Alejandro Jodorowsky famously started on an adaptation that was to star a cast that included Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, and Mick Jagger, but failed to get funding. That potential film is explored in the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. More than 10 years later, David Lynch adapted a film version of Dune for mega producer Dino De Laurentiis that starred Kyle MacLachlan. The film flopped at the box office and with critics, but has since gone on to obtain cult status. Finally, John Harrison adapted the book in 2000 as a Sci-Fi Channel miniseries.
A new iteration of Herbert’s Dune novels has been in some kind of development hell for the better part of a decade, with Paramount trying an adaptation with director Peter Berg, and then Pierre Morel before dropping it altogether. There is no word yet on who could helm any number of these new Legendary Entertainment produced Dune projects, but Arrival/Blade Runner 2029 director Denis Villeneuve has expressed interest in tackling a Dune adaptation.
The full press release follows:
LEGENDARY ENTERTAINMENT ACQUIRES RIGHTS TO FRANK HERBERT’S CLASSIC SCI-FI NOVEL DUNE
Burbank, CA – November 21, 2016 – Legendary and the Frank Herbert estate have reached an agreement granting the production entity the film and television motion picture rights to the beloved novel DUNE, one of the most revered science fiction novels of all time. The agreement calls for the development and production of possible film and television projects for a global audience. The projects would be produced by Thomas Tull, Mary Parent and Cale Boyter, with Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert serving as executive producers.
Dune has long been considered the crown jewel of science fiction properties. Its legacy and influence is witnessed in everything from STAR WARS to THE MATRIX and often referred to as the science fiction version of LORD OF THE RINGS with its sprawling world and multi-dimensional politics.
The agreement was negotiated by Mike Ross and Jen Grazier on behalf of Legendary and Marcy Morris and Barry Tyerman of JTWAMMK on behalf of the Herbert family.
Keep an eye on Geek for any news on Legendary Entertainment’s ongoing Dune projects.
Images: Universal Studios