Legendary Acquires Film and Television Rights to Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’
“He who controls the spice controls the Universe!” is what the folks at Legendary must be cackling to themselves right about now as they seal the deal on acquiring the rights to Frank Herbert’s science fiction masterpiece Dune. Legendary reached an agreement with the Frank Herbert estate that includes both film and television rights to the book, and they are currently planning possible motion picture and television projects.
/Film has Legendary’s full press release. Dune takes place in the far future in which a galaxy of noble families is controlled by the Padishah Emperor. The book is the story of Paul Atreides, whose family accepts stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, on which is found the mystical drug melange, also called spice, which is the most important substance in the universe. Naturally, the Atreides family makes a few enemies by being in control of this substance, and meanwhile Paul ends up becoming a kind of Messiah (try saying “Kwisatz Haderach” ten times fast), and the book launches into an intricate study of politics, religion, emotion, and ecology that would take days to explain in full. Trust me, the above paragraph is the barest-bones explanation you’re going to find.
If you know Dune, you know it from two different places: either the book itself or David Lynch’s 1984 movie starring Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart, Max von Sydow, and… Sting? The movie was panned, developing a small but vocal cult appreciation during the decades following its release. It’s an ambitious project, but any undertaking to adapt that sprawling story would take ambition. The book also spawned two SciFi Channel miniseries, the latter of which, Children of Dune, starred one James McAvoy. Herbert’s novel has been cited as the inspiration for everything from Star Wars to The Matrix, and is the bestselling science fiction book of all time.
Interest in Dune was somewhat reignited by the 2013 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, which detailed Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ill-fated attempt to adapt the book into a film in the 1970s. And director Denis Villeneuve recently said that directing a Dune movie is “a longstanding dream of mine.” Since his latest Arrival is getting nothing but acclaim from critics and audiences everywhere, and he’s currently working on the Blade Runner sequel, maybe Villeneuve’s dreams of spice and sandworms are soon to become a reality.