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Denis Villeneuve Reveals The Surprising Way He Approached Dune's Tone

Adapting a beloved novel — or set of novels, for that matter — has never been an easy task in Hollywood. Just consider the insurmountable task of producing a vision of characters and environs that match what a reader imagines in the mind's eye. It's not impossible, though, as the challenge has been met by four different directors for the "Harry Potter" film saga, as well as Peter Jackson for "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" film trilogies.

Next on the hot seat of adapting an iconic novel for the big screen is director Denis Villeneuve, who — almost 37 years after filmmaker David Lynch's beleaguered attempt at interpreting Frank Herbert's classic work — is about to introduce audiences to his new version of "Dune."

In "Dune," which chronicles the first half of Herbert's 412-page novel from 1965, Timothée Chalamet takes on the pivotal role of Paul Atreides. A young man beset with strange, repetitive visions, Paul is the heir-apparent to the House of Atreides. This house of nobles has been granted stewardship over Arrakis — a desert planet rich with the invaluable substance called "spice." Among other things, the drug boosts mental capacity and makes interstellar travel possible. With the fate of Arrakis at stake, Paul, his father Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) face deadly resistance to their rule from House Harkonnen, a brutish regime that has been mining spice on Arrakis for the last 80 years of the story.

Denis Villeneuve aimed to make Dune a 'pop movie'

Denis Villeneuve has taken on a beloved franchise once before with 2017's "Blade Runner 2049." And speaking to IndieWire, the director admitted that what he did — making the sequel to the 1982 Ridley Scott classic — was "sacrilegious." In the end, audiences seemed to agree, as the film fell far short of its box office promise with a global take of $259.2 million against a $150 million budget (via Box Office Mojo). Understandably, Villeneuve wants to avoid the same fate with his adaptation of "Dune."

Villeneuve told IndieWire in an interview that he aimed to make a version of "Dune" that was accessible to all audiences — not just fans of the novel. "I wanted to make sure that people that were like 13 or 14 years old would have fun watching the movie," he said. "When I read the book, I had images that came up, and I wanted to please that teenager inside me. Right from the start, I agreed to make a PG-13 movie, [in] the way the story is told, and the rhythm. I wanted this movie to be my best pop movie. And I say that with great joy. It was not for me any compromise. To make an obscure version of 'Dune' that would appease only the hardcore fans would have been more easy. To make the movie accessible was the big challenge, while still keeping deep roots into the novel."

"Dune" opens in theaters and begins streaming exclusively on HBO Max on October 22.