A Dune Sequel Was Just Kind-Of, Sort-Of, Maybe Confirmed

Hollywood, theater owners, general audiences, and fans most deeply invested in the story of "Dune" have all united to ponder one single question: Just how wholesome is it that Guillermo del Toro apparently thought they filmed those sandworms practically?

Okay more seriously, most everyone has been wondering whether the gamble to film only the first two thirds or so of Frank Herbert's "Dune" novel and necessitate a Part 2 to complete the story would pay off or not. After all, director Denis Villeneuve's last film, "Blade Runner 2049," felt like a similar instance where the material would surely appeal to a very vocal contingent of movie fans on social media ... but without much hope of translating to wider and more casual audiences. Several factors have joined forces to compound the issue with "Dune" specifically — the fact that the original novel has since become outpaced in terms of mainstream appeal and popularity by the very works it inspired in the first place (see: "Star Wars" borrowing heavily from "Dune" and becoming a pop culture behemoth, to the point that "Dune" now seems like the copycat), recent moviegoing trends indicating that sci-fi epics that aren't "Star Wars" or superhero-related are doomed to fail at the box office, and the ongoing pandemic.

Have early predictions that "Dune" is destined to be a box office flop been premature? The international box office results thus far sure seem to point in that direction, but now there's perhaps even more reason for optimism as top WarnerMedia executives have publicly thrown their support behind a "Dune" sequel. Does that mean this is official confirmation that one will actually come to fruition? Well ... maybe? Kind of? Hopefully? Check out their quotes below and decide for yourself.

Will There Be a Dune Sequel?

By now, you're probably sick of us reminding you about the HBO Max day-and-date release shenanigans and how the option to watch the film from home will inevitably cut into the box office results for "Dune." It's remained an open question as to just how much weight studio executives place on streaming numbers — it hasn't helped that the major streamers are being less than forthright about their data — but this latest Deadline report at least gives the impression that a "Dune" sequel is all but a foregone conclusion at this point.

During an interview about the prospects of a "Dune: Part 2," WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff responded very definitively ... or at least, as definitively as you'd expect a CEO to be when their crown jewel of a blockbuster is just about to release in the United States and getting tongues wagging about a potential sequel could result in a brighter weekend outlook at the box office. According to Sarnoff:

"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."

Up in the Air

The implications! The confidence! The ... impressive "studio-speak" ability to say something without really ever saying anything. It's not exactly a spoiler to say that "Dune" ends with the assumption that the story will have to continue in a sequel. The difference is whether Warner Bros. will be willing to commit to such an endeavor, which isn't fully answered here. Speaking more generally, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar points out that when it comes to pulling the trigger on sequels for films released in theaters and on streaming simultaneously, "decisions are well informed and based on audience response, not just based on box office." This lines up with previous reports and certainly paints a rosier picture for "Dune," which reportedly has a production and marketing budget of around $300 million and would need to earn at least twice that amount at the box office before it could even begin to be considered a success.

All that to say that a sequel is still up in the air, but at least viewers can rest assured that they'll be doing their part to support it even if they do so from home.

"Dune" releases in U.S. theaters and on HBO Max later tonight.