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Dune: Part Two: Release Date, Trailers, Cast & More

We break down where Denis Villeneuve's adaptation will likely go next, from plotlines in the source novel to new cast additions like Christopher Walken, Florence Pugh, and Léa Seydoux.

by | August 24, 2023 | Comments

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It finally happened. After one feature film adaptation and many attempts to turn Frank Herbert’s Dune into a critical and financial success, director Denis Villeneuve, Legendary, and Warner Bros. Picture did just that with 2021’s Dune. The film wowed people with its vision of the distant future and Villeneuve’s smart subtractions from the text made it more accessible than ever before. And since those subtractions included half the novel, it also meant a natural sequel would be available. Once Dune was a success, the studio wasted no time revealing Dune: Part Two was on its way.

But where do you go with the journey of Paul Atriedes (Timothée Chalamet) next? And will it lead to a conclusion or another chapter in the Dune saga. While fans of Herbert’s work have some inkling of the future, let’s assemble what we know about Dune: Part Two to see if we can’t obtain some of Paul’s prescient vision on the matter.

The Path Of Dune: Part Two

(Photo by ©2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Considering where Dune ends — Chani (Zendaya) literally saying “this is only the beginning” — Dune: Part Two will use the latter half of Herbert’s first Dune novel as its roadmap. In the book, Paul not only trains with his adoptive Fremen compatriots, but he and his mother train them in the Bene Gesserit form of combat known as the Weirding Way. At the same time, the Fremen begin to revere Paul as their prophesied messiah; Lady Jessica is not only aware of this because her order planted the myth among the Fremen, but she distrusts it, as it could lead Paul down a destructive path. Paul himself is also worried about that Path, as he has seen it in his prescient dreams, even as he accepts certain parts of that future, like adopting the name “Maud’Dib.”

Elsewhere in the universe, Baron Vladamir Harkonnen continues to groom his nephew, Feyd-Rautha, to eventually take his place and — if he’s played all his pieces correctly — sit the Lion Throne of the Padishah Emperors. This zeal is tempered, though, by the suspicion that Feyd is already conspiring to have the Baron killed. And, as it happens, Feyd is important to the Bene Gesserit, who are still looking to manufacture the Kwisatz Haderach after the apparent loss of the Atreides bloodline.

Eventually, though, everything leads back to Arrakis, where Emperor Shaddam IV sets his sights once Spice production grinds to a halt. But his arrival there may lead to a drastic change in the Imperium.

The Worlds Of The Sequel

Dune (2021)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros. Entertainment)

The setting of Dune: Part Two will remain consistent for the most part. Much of the action still takes place on the desert planet Arrakis, source of the Spice Melange. But the book also spends a few scenes back on the Harkonnen world, Geidi Prime. Although appearing in earlier scenes, Feyd-Rautha’s big introduction occurs when he takes part in a gladiatorial challenge that may or may not be part of the plot to eventually kill the Baron. Since Geidi Prime made a few key appearances in the first film, we expect this scene will be adapted in some form. And though never glimpsed directly in the novel, the epigraphs beginning each chapter – attributed to Princess Irulan Corrino – may give Villeneuve the leeway to depict the Imperial throneworld of Kaitain. David Lynch realized the planet as an opulent world of gold and marble. Alejandro Jodorowsky planned to make Kaitain a literal planet of gold. And although we could see Villeneuve resisting the urge to realize his own take on the planet, it is always possible a few scenes could be set there to introduce the Emperor and his family.

Returning To The Path

Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, and Timothee Chalamet in Dune (2021)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros. Entertainment)

In terms of returning cast, Chalamet, Rebecca Feguson, Zendaya, and Javier Bardem return as Paul, Jessica, Chani, and Stilgar. Their stories continue, as they unambiguously survived the events of the first film. Stellan Skarsgård also returns as the Baron; his role expands a great deal in the second half, as his overall scheme comes into view and the tension with his nephew takes hold – well, at least until he becomes aware of the problem on Arrakis. And although it has not been confirmed, we expect Stephen McKinley Henderson to return as Mentat Master of Assassins Thufir Hawat. The character still has some part to play in the narrative and audiences may be surprised by what he can accomplish despite the defeat of House Atreides in the first film. Additionally, Josh Brolin will likely be back as Gurney Hallack, although it remains to be seen just when in the film he’ll make his return. We also expect Charlotte Rampling to appear again as Bene Gesserit Mother Helen Gaius Mohaim in at least one Part Two scene.

And though we don’t expect to see Oscar Isaac or Jason Momoa this time around, it is always possible they could be glimpsed, as Paul’s powers allow him to see the past and the future.

Joining The Path

(Photo by ©Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

The film is also an opportunity to introduce a handful of new characters. The two most important for Part Two are arguably Christopher Walken as the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV and recent Elvis star Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha. Despite the Baron’s continued villainy, the pair are more directly Paul’s adversaries – indeed, the Emperor was always the foe Paul knew was waiting in the wings. But should the film adapt Feyd’s fight on Geidi Prime, it will become obvious to viewers that he is an immediate physical threat to Paul.

But the character addition that will prove most pivotal in the future is Florence Pugh as Irulan. Although she appears in the novel in just one scene – in which she says nothing – her presence is felt throughout the book thanks to various historical tomes attributed to her. When word first broke indicating Pugh might play the part, it was said the script was being massaged to make it worth her while. We imagine this means she will get to do something in the few places where she fits into the narrative. That said, Irulan’s role in the next Dune story is key and a good reason to secure Pugh’s services now.

(Photo by ©2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Other new characters that could appear but have not been cast include Fremen like Korba and Reverend Mother Ramallo, and – most likely of all – Jessica’s daughter, Alia.

(Photo by ©2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment)

A truly surprising addition to the cast, on the other hand, is Léa Seydoux as Lady Margot Fenring. She is a Bene Gesserit sister and the wife of Count Hasimir Fenring, the interim governor of Arrakis just before House Atreides arrived and – to simplify things a bit – the Emperor’s closest friend and ally. Lady Margot has her own part to play in the story, of course, but as it comes to almost nothing in the long run, it is startling to learn the character will appear at all. It also suggests the Count will be cast; his story also runs aground as he is essentially replaced by a new character in the next Dune novel. Nevertheless, their inclusion is welcome and we look forward to seeing how Villeneuve works them into the tapestry of the film series.

The Continuing Architects Of Dune

Denis Villeneuve on the set of Dune

(Photo by Chiabella James/©Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Villeneuve, of course, continues on as director. According to various reports, he intends to stay with Dune for a third film. Presumably, this will be an adaptation of Dune Messiah, which sees Irulan, Reverend Mother Mohiam, and several others conspire against Paul. And though he cannot sense the particulars of the scheme, he welcomes it for his own reasons, which may or may relate back to the Path he sensed that first morning after his father was killed.

Joining Villeneuve as writer is a returning Jon Spaihts. The screenwriter was originally going to spend much of his time with the HBO Max spinoff, Dune: The Sisterhood, but handed the series off to Diane Ademu-John when the writing of Part Two grew too big to accommodate both.

Other returning crew include director of photography Greig Fraser, editor Joe Walker, production designer Patrice Vermette, and costume designer Jacqueline West. Also, Hans Zimmer will return to offer the Dune world his unique perspective.

When It Returns And When It Continues

(Photo by ©2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment)

The film is currently set for release on November 3, 2023 – although that could change as Warner Bros.’ film schedule is a fluid thing these days. Also, should the film continue the trend of successful Dune movies, we imagine Villeneuve will return for the Dune Messiah adaptation. Whether or not it will retain that title is worthy of some speculation, though; to maintain consistency and delineate from any future Dune projects, it could be called “Dune Part Three.” Subsequent entries could then use the actual book titles, i,e. Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune.

But much like the studio release schedule, the future of Dune as a film franchise is also malleable. The conclusion of Dune: Part Two will offer a natural end point, as will Dune Messiah. But even with that, Herbert was already sensing a grander scheme that would not be resolved in the four subsequent Dune novels he wrote in his life time. His son, Brian Herbert, and writer Kevin J. Anderson required two additional novels to finish the conclusion he outlined. Warner Bros. may always be on the lookout for a book series to produce eight or more films, but considering how wildly esoteric the Dune series gets – to say nothing of how far it reaches from its original conflict and characters – we’re still unsure just how much of the Path Paul saw in his vision will makes its way to theaters.

Dune: Part Two opens everywhere on March 15, 2024.

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