In what will likely come as a shock to those eagerly anticipating the long-awaited remake of Dune, the latest Denis Villeneuve picture has been moved from its December 20th release date to October 1st, 2021.
This is yet another major blow to the theatrical film community, with a number of high-profile blockbuster pictures having been pushed back in recent days as COVID-19 infections surge worldwide. Amongst these is Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, and the latest James Bond entry, No Time to Die, all of which had their release dates pushed back until 2021, while Matt Reeves’ hotly anticipated The Batman has seen its release pushed back as far as 2022.
Dune was arguably going to be the cinematic event of the upcoming holiday season, especially if the recently released trailer is anything to go. In fact, studios have been peppering eager fans with trailers to compensate for their delayed releases, but this latest news is a firm reminder of the dire straits in which the film industry finds itself during this pandemic.
The long delay to Dune’s release serves as further disappointment for fans of the books, who have been waiting quite some time for a true adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel of the same name. A science fiction epic ahead of its time, Herbert’s Dune garnered many awards and adoration from readers the world over. There was even a concerted effort by the renowned Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky to adapt the book in the 1970s which never came to fruition, though his transcendent vision for it is covered in the acclaimed 2013 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. For context on the overtly psychedelic Jodorowsky would have taken, he says he wanted to make a film “that gives the LSD hallucinations – without taking LSD.”
Then, there is David Lynch’s infamous adaptation which, unlike Jodorowsky’s unrealised concept, actually saw the light of day in 1984. Though, not without considerable issues behind the scenes. Lynch is one of the finest, most uniquely gifted directors of his generation, but he was never the right choice for this big budget sci-fi studio film, which was exacerbated by reported studio interference and denying Lynch final cut privilege, two things that go against his principles as a filmmaker. To this day Lynch refuses to discuss Dune, while some cuts of the film even use a pseudonym under the writing and directing credits.
Thirty-three years, one made-for-TV miniseries and several failed attempts at a cinematic remake later, the reigning king of Hollywood science fiction Denis Villeneuve was hired to direct in 2017, who was finishing production on Blade Runner 2049 at the time. Choosing Villeneuve to direct Dune is like JJ Abrams doing Star Wars following his success with Star Trek; it just makes sense. Fans agreed too, as the build-up to the epic Dune has bordered on hysteria, recognising that they will likely experience the purest cinematic adaptation of Herbert’s novel yet.
It may be of little comfort at present given how fresh the announcement of Dune’s ten-month delay is, but solace can be taken in the fact that this is not a case of getting a long-gestating production off the ground, but rather releasing a film that has already been made, and by one of the modern masters of cinematic science fiction no less. Dune’s time will undoubtedly come, and when it does it could take the world by storm.