Dune: Messiah Is Already in the Works—and It’ll Be Denis Villeneuve’s Final Dune Movie

Dune: Messiah Is Already in the Works—and It’ll Be Denis Villeneuve’s Final Dune Movie

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, Dune may wind up being the most unconventional film trilogy ever. Let’s consider the pieces: the first Dune, released in late 2021 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, arrived with much fanfare, but also much mystery. Theater turnout was a major question (the movie was also simultaneously released on HBO Max), and the film only adapted the first half of author Frank Herbert’s 1964 sci-fi novel of the same name—without an official greenlight to make a sequel. Luckily, the movie did well enough for Warner Bros. to give director Denis Villeneuve the go-ahead on Dune: Part Two, which has now arrived in theaters to significant acclaim, and seems likely to make a major splash at the box office.

While Dune: Part Two completes the adaptation of Herbert’s first novel, the film once again concludes on an ambiguous note. Could we get Dune: Part Three? Luckily, it seems likely—though we have absolutely no realistic timeline. The third film—likely the final for Villeneuve—would likely be adapted from Herbert’s second novel, Dune: Messiah, rounding out the trilogy with a book that hardly continues the story from the first film; rather, it pushes the story 12 full years into the future. A turn quite unusual for what fans of trilogies like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, or Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are used to.

There’s been quite a bit of chatter about the story of Dune continuing with Messiah, but hardly anything concrete whatsoever. But with Part Two already a hit with critics, likely to make a major splash at the box office, and maybe even contend for some Oscars (the first Dune was nominated for Best Picture and won six others), it feels likely that Warner Bros. will make a return to Arrakis a major priority.

Will Dune: Part Two have a sequel?

dune messiah

Warner Bros.

It seems likely that sooner or later, Dune: Part Two will have a sequel, and it will be called Dune: Messiah (Or, perhaps, renamed Dune: Part Three. Who’s to say.).

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A January Time profile on Villeneuve confirmed that another Dune screenplay was one of three he was working on, but also confirmed that the film hadn’t officially been greenlit. He also noted that if it does happen, it would be his swan song in this particular desert. “Dune Messiah should be the last Dune movie for me,” he said.

He sounded a bit less certain during a recent interview with Uproxx, where he suggested that he was ready to do something else for a little while. “For now, I’ve had my share of sand and I would love to take a little break from Arrakis before going back, if ever I go back,” he said, before hedging his answer a bit. “I will go back if there’s a strong screenplay on the table.”

He does add, though, that while it would feel “poetic” to complete his Dune story with Messiah, he wanted to leave Dune: Part Two in a place where it would be satisfying if that turns out to be the end. “For me, I tried to complete the story in the two first movies,” he said. “If it stopped there, there was a part of me that I knew I will have spent enough time in Arrakis.”

The director has also been connected in recent years to a film adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama (which he’s described as “Arrival on steroids”) as well as rumors of a Cleopatra film starring Zendaya.

Completing at least one of those projects between Dune films could prove beneficial. Herbert’s second novel is set 12 years after the events of the original Dune, and Paul is meant to be significantly older in Messiah than he is in Dune. Timothée Chalamet is already playing younger than his actual age (Paul is 15 in the book, and probably supposed to be a bit older than that in the first film; Chalamet turned 28 in late December), so it wouldn’t be too hard to age him up a bit in the other direction, but a few years to grizzle him up wouldn’t hurt either.

And while he’s gone both directions, it does ultimately seem likely that we’ll get a Dune: Messiah. At the New York premiere of Dune: Part Two, Villeveuve told the Associated Press that he’s not used to talking about projects when they’re in the writing stage, but that Messiah “probably” will be a go. “It should happen,” he said.

And as one last bonus? Hans Zimmer is already writing music for a third Dune film.

The odds are looking high.

What is the Dune: Messiah book about?

dune timothee

Warner Bros.

Frank Herbert’s Dune: Messiah is set 12 years after the end of Dune, and picks up with things well down the path of where Dune seems headed: Paul is the Emperor of the Known Universe, and things are not good. He’s a feared, powerful man, one who has the Fremen worshipping at his feet—and the other houses constantly plotting his downfall. He’s become, more or less, the tyrannical leader that he feared he would.

Messiah is really where Herbert’s subversion of the typical sci-fi, hero’s journey kinds of stories comes to a head. Dune included subtext and hints that Paul’s road to being the “chosen one” would turn into a very different type of story, but Messiah is where that story becomes fully realized. If Dune finds Paul Atreides as a parallel of sorts to a young Anakin Skywalker, Messiah picks up after’s he’s already turned into some sort of Darth Vader/Emperor Palpatine hybrid.

If Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Messiah film winds up getting made, it would likely be one of the most unique sci-fi movies—on a story level, at the very least—of all time.

Headshot of Evan Romano

Evan Romano

Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.

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