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A WarnerMedia Exec May Have Just Confirmed A Dune Sequel

Nearly 37 years after director David Lynch released his embattled film adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic novel "Dune" in theaters, filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is about to unleash his version of the 1965 classic tale to the masses. With Villeneuve's version of the film comes a mountain of expectations, so the production must clear a major hurdle with audiences, whose reception of the film will surely help dictate the future of the franchise.

New in theaters on October 22 and streaming exclusively on HBO Max one day early, "Dune" tells the harrowing tale of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a young noble who is in line to become heir to lead the House Atreides. The film picks up after House Atreides takes stewardship over Arrakis, a desert planet fortified with the invaluable substance known as "spice," which makes interstellar travel possible. Soon after the leadership of House Atreides sets foot on Arrakis and familiarizes themselves with its native inhabitants, the House Harkonnen — a malevolent regime who mined spice from the desert sands 80 years prior — launches an attack to take the planet back, and the lives of Paul, his father Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), and mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) fall into peril.

Because "Dune" covers about half of Herbert's 412-page novel, fans are probably wondering what's going on with the rest of the narrative — and a Warner Media executive may have just tipped her hand about where the potential series is going next.

The answer is in the movie, says Warner Media's Ann Sarnoff

It's no secret that only half of "Dune" was adapted for the big screen, so the big question remains if the second part of "Dune" will be filmed at all, much less released. Reports surfaced in September that Warner Bros., which bankrolled the film, didn't film the first and second "Dune" movies back-to-back because they were waiting to see how well part one performed.

Now, on the eve of the theatrical release of "Dune," WarnerMedia Studios and Networks chairperson and CEO Ann Sarnoff is shedding a bit more light on if the desert planet will see another day in theaters — and the news appears positive, considering how the story unfolds on the big screen: "Will we have a sequel to Dune? If you watch the movie, you see how it ends. I think you pretty much know the answer to that," Sarnoff told Deadline in an interview.

It's easy to understand why WarnerMedia would be concerned about pulling the trigger on a second film. After all, Lynch's troubled 1984 production earned a dismal $30.9 million worldwide against a $40 million budget (via Box Office Mojo) and an underwhelming 41 percent approval rating on Metacritic.

Boasting a cast that also includes Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård and Zendaya, Villeneuve's version of "Dune" carries a healthy $165 million budget, so the movie is facing a tall order as the pandemic still appears to be hampering moviegoing habits. Factoring in the film's marketing budget, speculators estimate that "Dune" will have to make a minimum of $300 million worldwide to become profitable. Working in the film's favor, however, is the potential number of new signups for HBO Max if fans go that route to see the movie.

"Dune" opens in theaters October 22 and begins streaming exclusively on HBO Max October 21.