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Denis Villeneuve says Dune will be 'Star Wars for adults'

Although Dune is one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises on the planet, it hasn't quite captured the attention of the mainstream the way Star Wars and Star Trek have. But that could all change with Denis Villeneuve calling the shots.

The director of Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 is developing a new movie based on the classic 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, and although it's still early, he told Fandom he's got big plans. "The ambition is to do the Star Wars movie I never saw," he said. "In a way, it's Star Wars for adults. We'll see."

To be fair, even George Lucas said that Star Wars is "a film for 12-year-olds." But now that there's an established formula for space operas, the most difficult thing for Villeneuve might be creating something that doesn't immediately seem reminiscent of Star Wars. "Most of the main ideas of Star Wars are coming from Dune, so it's going to be a challenge to [tackle] this," he said. 

Set in the very distant future when noble houses are given control of individual planets, Dune centers on young Paul Atreides, the son of the steward of the desert planet Arrakis. It's the only place in the universe that has the oracular spice melange, which is the most valuable and important substance. It's up to Paul to lead the Fremen, natives of Arrakis, against House Harkonnen for control of the planet.

David Lynch directed a movie version in 1984, but it was a commercial and critical failure. However, a decade before that, avant-garde director Alejandro Jodorowsky had also attempted to bring it to the screen in 1973. Although the film was never made, the preparations that Jodorowsky made influenced Ridley Scott when he helmed Alien and Blade Runner.

So will Villeneuve look to Jodorowsky's plans for his version of Dune? "No," he said. "Because Jodorowsky is a very unique visionary. He has a very strong, unique vision. I am a total different human being. It would be very presumptuous and arrogant for me to try... I think he's a fantastic filmmaker and I would have loved to see his Dune."

Herbert wrote five sequels to Dune, but Villeneuve said he only plans to cover the first novel with the movie. However, there could be more down the line. "I could be involved with one or two movies," he said. But he cautioned that there's still plenty of time for things to change. "Right now, I might in three weeks or two months learn that nobody agrees on a screenplay, [and] it will be with someone else," he said. "It can happen. And when the movie will be made? It's all theory right now."