The latest adaptation of Dune finally made its way to the big screen in the United States this weekend, and the box office is looking pretty promising. Warner Bros. seems pretty keen on greenlighting a sequel, and if I were a betting woman, I would say we are going to get confirmation of Part Two at the earliest Monday and the latest by the end of the year. One of the things that people have been talking about since the movie came out, even from those that love it, is that it ends at kind of a weird spot and doesn't really feel like a whole movie which it really isn't. People have been comparing Dune to many other multifilm series like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. However, the Lord of the Rings comparison isn't accurate at all. In fact, if you're looking for an accurate comparison when it comes to the pacing and structure of Dune Part One, it isn't Lord of the Rings at all; it's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One and Two.
The Lord of the Rings comparison makes sense when you think about it. Dune is science fiction and fantasy, while Lord of the Rings is just straight fantasy. They are both baked into the DNA of their respective genres. They are both massive series with lots of characters and locations that, at times, seem impossible to adapt. The main difference comes down to structure and the way these movies and books are set up. When Peter Jackson was adapting the Lord of the Rings, he had three books, so he made three movies. Each book more or less has a beginning, middle, and end. While Jackson did tweak and move a few things around to make the endings and beginnings feel more natural, they are very true to their books in terms of structure. However, when Denis Villeneuve goes to adapt Dune, he is adapting one book that is, in some editions, big enough to be considered a weapon. There isn't an easily defined beginning, middle, and end for a movie because we are looking at one continuous story. Another book that ran into the problem of having too much book for one more was the final Harry Potter book.
It was a long time ago, but many people have forgotten that the final Harry Potter movies are structured very weirdly. The first look is an extended camping trip and trying to figure out what they are going to do next. The second movie is almost entirely the Battle of Hogwarts and wrapping everything up. People were willing to accept that sort of strange pacing from Harry Potter because they had six other movies worth of goodwill with their audience. The fans of Harry Potter wanted to hold onto it just as much as Warner Bros. wanted to keep making these massively successful films. Dune doesn't have that audience goodwill, so there will be people who will likely be annoyed that everything ends so abruptly. The actual test of the movie will be whether or not people are going to be willing to wait for the second part.
That is the main difference between Dune and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Warner Bros. was smart and filmed both of those movies back to back, so there was only a year wait between the two. For Dune, it appears they didn't have that sort of confidence and haven't greenlit a part two at the time of writing. So while Villeneuve might be willing to say that he's ready to go next year, they still need to film and do post-production on this massive production. Dune Part Two is at least two years away, and that kind of wait with that kind of ending might turn some people off when it comes to the sequel.
It's very natural to want to compare things within popular culture, but when it comes to Dune, you really can't compare it as a movie to other trilogies of films. Is it a lot like Lord of the Rings in terms of scope and how big it all is? Absolutely, but Jackson was working under very different conditions from Villeneuve when it comes down to adaptation. He's in the same boat as Harry Potter's David Yates or The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn's Bill Condon or Mockingjay's Francis Lawrence. While the latter two were shorter books needlessly stretched out to two movies because Harry Potter did it, Dune is big enough that it more than justified a part one and two. We'll just have to see how the public will react to a longer wait between films.
Dune Summary: A mythic and emotionally charged hero's journey, "Dune" tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet's exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity's greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive.
Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve and the film stars Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet ("Call Me by Your Name," "Little Women"), Rebecca Ferguson ("Stephen King's Doctor Sleep," "Mission: Impossible – Fallout"), Oscar Isaac (the "Star Wars" franchise) Oscar nominee Josh Brolin ("Milk," "Avengers: Infinity War"), Stellan Skarsgård (HBO's "Chernobyl," "Avengers: Age of Ultron"), Dave Bautista (the "Guardians of the Galaxy" films, "Avengers: Endgame"), Stephen McKinley Henderson ("Fences," "Lady Bird"), Zendaya ("Spider-Man: Homecoming," HBO's "Euphoria"), Chang Chen ("Mr. Long," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), David Dastmalchian ("Blade Runner 2049," "The Dark Knight"), Sharon Duncan-Brewster ("Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," Netflix's "Sex Education"), with Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling ("45 Years," "Assassin's Creed"), with Jason Momoa ("Aquaman," HBO's "Game of Thrones"), and Oscar winner Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men," "Skyfall"). Dune opened in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22, 2021.