What can we expect from ‘Dune: Part 3’?

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There are some movies that come along every few years or so that genuinely force you to reconsider what cinema is and can be. Denis Villeneuve’s epic blockbuster sequel, Dune: Part Two, is one such film, a movie of such audacious cinematic scope that it makes everything around it at the box office feel utterly inferior as if the film itself is the Shai-Hulud and the rest of the industry is nervously gawking.

Many are, indeed, calling the sequel the Empire Strikes Back of Villeneuve’s Dune trilogy, with the first film in the series setting up all the foundations of the story so that the recent follow-up could fully thrive. The result is a spectacular, unrivalled cinematic epic that tracks the efforts of Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides to seek revenge against his father and launch an offensive with the Fremen against the Harkonnens.

Expanding the lore of the story, Dune: Part Two dedicates itself to the idea that protagonist Paul Atreides is the messiah of the desert planet Arrakis, with the local Fremen declaring him to be the fabled Muad’Dib, a traveller from across the stars who would liberate their people. Elsewhere, it also doubles down on the Shai-Hulud, the sandworms that the Fremen worship and ride as they travel across the vast planet.

The movie ends with Paul Atreides becoming the messiah that was prophesied, leading the Fremen to defeat the Harkonnens before forcing the emperor of the galaxy to kneel before him. Asking that he takes the hand of the emperor’s daughter in marriage so that the pair can rule over the planet, he abandons his established love, Zendaya’s Chani, and sets off on a path of his own self-destruction.

How many Dune movies will there be?

So far, the Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has made two Dune movies, and the filmmaker has made it very clear that he intends to release a third to complete the trilogy. The first Dune instalment was released in 2021 to critical and commercial success, but many believed that the money wasn’t there for Villeneuve to make his follow-up. Now that the director has achieved the impossible, it is unlikely that he won’t be able to finish his magnum opus.

A trilogy remains the most likely course for Villeneuve’s series despite 26 books existing in the epic sci-fi book series. Frank Herbert wrote the first six novels, while a number of unauthorised spin-offs were penned, including by Brian Herbert, the former’s eldest son. While the Dune books remain iconic totems of literary fantasy, only the first three books in the series are truly championed.

DUNE- PART TWO -Denis Villeneuve - Timothee Chalamet - Zendaya - 2023

(Credits: Far Out / Warner Bros.)

Will Dune 3 be based on Children of Dune?

No, it’s likely that Villeneuve will prefer to focus on the second book in the series, Dune: Messiah. The 2021 movie was based on the first half of the first book, released by Frank Herbert in 1965, while the recent release of Dune: Part Two finishes off the work of the first film. This means that Dune: Part Three will likely wrap up the story with Dune: Messiah before the more narratively challenging aspects of Children of Dune become tangled in the story.

Dune: Messiah details the personal downfall of Paul Atreides, whose own hubris leads to his downfall, finding the crown a little too heavy to wear, yielding under the weight of such power and responsibility. On the other hand, Children of Dune is far different, dealing with the children of Paul, Ghanima and Leto and their Aunt Alia, who rules over them, with little direct relevance being shared with the two previous stories in the series.

At the end of Dune: Part Two, we left Paul at the dawn of his villain arc, having mercilessly slaughtered Vladimir Harkonnen, made the emperor kneel before him and betrayed Chani by asking that he take Princess Irulan’s hand in marriage. Such sets the protagonist up well to become the villain of his own story in Dune 3, setting out on a ‘Holy War’ despite the knowledge of the death and destruction that will come as a result.

It’s likely that Zendaya’s Chani will become the hero of Dune: Part Three, leading a rebellion against Paul, who will have gone mad with the power he possessed at the end of the second instalment.

Although Dune 3 has not yet been fully confirmed, Villeneuve has stated beyond doubt, “Dune Messiah should be the last Dune movie for me,” validating the fact that Children of Dune won’t be getting a full adaptation.

Dune - Dune Part 2 - Sandworms - 2024

(Credits: Far Out / Warner Bros.)

When is the expected Dune 3 release date?

Audiences will have to wait quite some time for the next movie in the Dune series, with industry experts suggesting it may be released sometime in 2027. Three years separated the releases of the first and second Dune movies, but it’s important to remember that Dune: Part Two was initially scheduled for release in November 2023 before it was pushed back due to the SAG-AFTRA strikes that suffocated Hollywood productions last year.

Thanks to the sheer amount of work that goes into each and every one of Villeneuve’s movies, it’s unlikely we will be seeing the film anytime soon, with the director stating only recently that he had nearly completed the script. This is merely the first part of any production; however, with Dune: Messiah still many years from final completion. Still, if such epics as this and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings have taught us anything it’s that ‘good things come to those who wait’. 

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