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The Real Reason Why Dune Parts 1 And 2 Weren't Shot Back-To-Back

Since 2018, director Denis Villeneuve has been clear and adamant that his cinematic adaptation of "Dune" needs two parts to tell the story. Frank Herbert's game-changing 1965 science fiction novel is too epic to tackle in just one installment, as David Lynch's flawed 1984 adaptation can attest. Villeneuve is so committed to his two-part vision that he made the first part all setup for stuff that will pay off in the Part Two — at least, that's how critics have interpreted the film. It's a confident move that's potentially ill-fated, as "Dune: Part Two" is not definitely happening. It's being written now and could theoretically be filmed in 2022, if everything works out.

According to Variety, the two parts of "Dune" were not shot back-to-back because Warner Bros., the studio behind the film, is waiting to see how "Dune" performs in theaters and on HBO Max when it's released on October 22. Variety intimates that the second chapter will probably happen, but it's not a done deal quite yet. "Dune" was very expensive to make, and its dense material will be very challenging to audiences. Warner Bros. wants to be sure Part One is a hit before it fully commits to Part Two, which are terms Villeneuve agreed to in order to get the film made.

Dune is not a guaranteed hit

"I wanted at the beginning to do the two parts simultaneously," Villeneuve told Variety. "For several reasons, it didn't happen, and I agreed to the challenge of making part one and then wait to see if the movie rings enough enthusiasm." Villeneuve didn't get into what the "several reasons" are, but it's clear that the most important reason is that Warner Bros. wants to make sure it didn't spend $165 million (via Deadline) on a movie that doesn't connect with a wide audience. Making "Dune" the way Villeneuve wanted is a risk, and Warner Bros. wants to make sure the risk has enough upside before doubling down. That also seems to be why the "Dune" TV series spin-off, "Dune: The Sisterhood," is still in development and hasn't started production.

Villeneuve is currently working on the script for Part Two and is "optimistic" that it will be made. Still, he put everything he had into making part one, since he knew while he was making it that it may be the only "Dune" movie he gets to make. 

"If such a thing as 'Dune: Part Two' happens, I will say that it's going to be an insane playground for me," he told Variety. Hopefully he gets to make it, we all get to take a spin on that swing set.