How Dune Changed In The Editing Room During The Covid Delays [Exclusive]

Directors like to say that they only stop working on their movies when the film is (almost) literally ripped out of their hands and shipped to movie theaters around the world. Given the immense pressures involved with wrapping up post-production on movies with a large budget, it's no wonder some filmmakers have copped to having mixed feelings once the release date hits. With "Last Night in Soho" making its way onto big screens around the globe, the always refreshingly honest Edgar Wright remarked on Twitter that, "I'm actually a little sad to see it leave home." 

Like "Last Night in Soho," "Dune" experienced plenty of pandemic-related delays before ultimately committing to its October 2021 day-and-date release in theaters and HBO Max. But while impatient fans were dismayed by the longer-than-anticipated wait, this actually proved to be a boon for those actually working on the film. Take it straight from "Dune" editor Joe Walker, who recently talked to /Film's Jack Giroux about all aspects of shaping the footage into the final cut.

"The Best Way to Tell the Story"

Sadly, no production across the industry escaped the pandemic unscathed. Countless productions experienced costly delays and loss of work due to the nationwide quarantine that lasted much of 2020, including blockbusters like "Dune." But even this darkest cloud imaginable revealed the tiniest silver lining, according to "Dune" editor Joe Walker. While talking to /Film about whether the unexpected break allowed for more time in the edit, Walker had this to say:

"We kept to the schedule, but the schedule did change. I think we were just at the end of director's cut and the pandemic hit. We were due to get the film ready for December, so that would have given us four or five months, I think. Everything stopped and we all went and moved into garden sheds and spare bedrooms around the Los Angeles area. Denis was in Montreal for several months and we were working through software, but there was a long period where nothing was happening.

I don't want to talk about the pandemic in such terms, because it's created such a disaster for everybody. In my personal experience, it was a great benefit to the film and to me. To me, because there are times when you're worried about something that isn't working and you lie awake at night going, 'Oh God,' all this anxiety about trying to get this thing figured out. What do you do? Do you lie in bed awake? Or do you go downstairs in the middle of the night, turn the Avid on and fix it for half an hour and then you go back and sleep?"

It's easy to see how the sudden downtime, serious though it was, would nevertheless feel like a blessing in disguise. Saying that he "rested better" working from home (relatable!), Walker continues:

"I have to say, the tempo of the edit slowed down, too, while we were waiting for the effects... And then when we picked up again, it was the full rush to get things ready. We didn't have the luxury of that on 'Blade Runner 2049' at all. On this one, we had the chance to actually put it away for a little while and then re-engage and say, 'Is this the best way to tell the story?'"

Though far from ideal circumstances, "Dune" turned out exactly as fans — and the crew — wanted.