One of the most exciting pieces of news to emerge from Cannes this week was the announcement of Jodorowsky’s Dune, a documentary about the failed attempt by ambitious and very possibly insane Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky to film Frank Herbert‘s novel Dune in the mid-’70s. The project has long stood as one of the great ‘films that never were.’ Just the idea of seeing the surviving participants talk about what the film might have been is exciting, and that’s what the doc offers — hopefully we’ll also see art and designs that have not previously been released.

So here’s the first promo video for the film, in which Alejandro Jodorowsky explains just how ambitious his plan for the movie really was.  Read More »

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In the pantheon of Big Difficult Adaptations, Frank Herbert‘s novel Dune has stood tall for years. Efforts to make a film in the ’70s stalled, and a film version nearly defeated David Lynch in the early ’80s. (Some, including David Lynch, might say that it did defeat him.) The mini-series adaptation in 2000 can be considered good only by those who judge quality by how many details from the source are crammed onto the screen, and efforts to make a film version since then have resulted in many script drafts, but no actual film.

Paramount has held the rights to Dune for some time, with the project passing through the hands of multiple screenwriters and directors, but now the studio’s option has lapsed. The rights have reverted to Richard P. Rubenstein, the liaison to the Frank Herbert estate and ABC. Read More »

Rights holders for big genre, comic book and toy properties are getting smart. In the past few decades we’ve seen many potentially huge adaptations languish as studios and producers waffled about finding the right approach to a project. But in the wake of big-dollar successes from Lord of the Rings to Spider-Man and The Dark Knight, companies such as Hasbro and the rights holders for projects like Dune are demanding new contracts, levying fines for delayed production starts and refusing to grant option extensions to studios that can’t get a project off the ground.

In the past few years, Paramount has held the rights to Dune, and a couple of high-profile directors have taken a crack at the difficult adaptation. Peter Berg was on the film, but then went to make Battleship for Universal. (More on that in a moment.) Pierre Morel (Taken) jumped on to the project, but the word now is that he no longer plans to direct.

So Universal needs a new director, but the clock is ticking. Dune‘s owners will take the project back next year if a film isn’t in motion. Read More »

David Lynch and Frank Herbert Discuss Dune

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Back in1983, the Waldenbooks chain recorded a long conversation between David Lynch and Frank Herbert. The occasion was the impending release of Lynch’s version of Dune. The final film, as most well know, was often derided as an artistic failure, and it was undoubtedly a commercial disaster. In the years since the film’s release, Lynch rarely speaks of it. Herbert died in early 1986, so he didn’t have time to see the film attain a certain level of respect in the sci-fi community.

But the movie has earned a large number of fans over the years, and rightly so. Though quite flawed, the film features incredible production design and film craft, elements which are often cited as the reasons for fan appreciation. But it is also interesting as an adaptation that isn’t afraid to muck around with the source a little bit. I think a lot more adaptations should indulge in changes. Listening to this interview, which appeared on YouTube this week, it seems evident that Frank Herbert might agree. Read More »

morel_dune

When Pierre Morel was announced as director for the new version of Dune, Brendon wondered, “is it reasonable to assume we’re on for a rather ballistic version of the story?” Yesterday the director spoke about his love of the book, and it seemed like he was trying to be right on the same page as ol’ Frank Herbert. Now more of his ideas are being reported, and he’s definitely going for something with a little more zip. Or, as he says with respect to David Lynch‘s 1984 adaptation, “faster and more modern.” Read More »

Pierre Morel To Direct Dune

It seems that Peter Berg’s replacement as the director of the new Dune movie has been found and it isn’t Neil Marshall. According to Entertainment Weekly, action specialist Pierre Morel, director of Taken, Banlieue 13 and the upcoming From Paris With Love has come on board. That’s a real step up in my book.

They also report that a new writer will be assigned to help retrofit the project in keeping with Morel’s vision. Is it reasonable to assume we’re on for a rather ballistic version of the story? Frank Herbert purists are probably already gnashing their teeth while me, I’m rubbing my hands together in anticipation of something rather more slam, bam, thank you Melange. I’d also hazard a guess that Morel may go for a cast suitably short on WASPy types – at least, if the studio agrees.

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