What we know about 'Dune: The Prophecy', the prequel to 'Dune' for Max

Dune was a risky cinematic bet.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 06:13
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What we know about 'Dune: The Prophecy', the prequel to 'Dune' for Max

Dune was a risky cinematic bet. Frank Herbert could have written a classic of space science fiction but, after David Lynch's adaptation, he earned the reputation of being inaccessible and unadaptable. Hiring a sophisticated and adult director like Denis Villeneuve was another risky bet, especially if Warner Bros. wanted to dominate the box office, but the move worked out well and we even have a spin-off series on the way.

The objective is to take advantage of the good functioning of the fictional universe among the public. The first part of Dune made $406 million in a pandemic context and won six Oscars out of the ten statuettes it was up for; and the second, also headed by Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, provisionally holds the title of highest-grossing film of 2024 with $710 million.

Now the franchise's plans focus on the development of a third part that will be based on the literary sequel The Messiah of Dune, on whose script Villeneuve and John Spaihts work, and the television series Dune: The Prophecy, which aims bring viewers to Max, Warner Bros. Discovery's content platform.

It is a maneuver similar to the one they are exploring with The Penguin with Colin Farrell, who wants to bring the audience of The Batman to the streaming service, or Welcome to Derry, the prequel to It to finish squeezing out Stephen King's horror universe. And what do we know about this prophecy?

The idea of ​​Dune: The Prophecy is to narrate the founding of the Bene Gesserit, a mix between a women's religious order, a sect and a political lobby. The objective of the Bene Gesserit, which in the films had members such as Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and the Reverend Mother Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling), is to guide the history of humanity as appropriate, based on their direct influence on the diplomatic relations, hidden motivations and imperceptible movements hatched over centuries or millennia.

The television series, currently in production, is inspired by the novel The Brotherhood of Dune written by Brian Herbert, who continued his father's literary universe after his death, and Kevin J. Anderson. It takes place 10,000 years before the ascension of Paul Atreides and how the relationship between two sisters of the Harkonnen dynasty creates a sect that affects the future of humanity in their galactic civilization.

In charge of the production is Alison Schapker, a screenwriter specialized in the genre having started in Charmed and having gone through Alias, Lost, Fringe and more recently Westworld. Jordan Goldberg, Mark Tobey, John Cameron, Matthew King, Scott Z. Burns and Jon Spaihts are executive producers alongside Brian Herbert, and Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert, carrying on Frank Herbert's legacy.

Regarding the cast, Emily Watson and Olivia Williams will be the sisters Valya and Tula Harkonnen, the protagonists; Jodhi May has the character of Emperor Natalya; Sarah-Sofie Boussnina will play Princess Ynez; and, completing the cast, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Faoileann Cunningham, Aoife Hinds, Chloe Lea, Travis Fimmel, Mark Strong, Jake Anouka and Chris Mason.

And, as confirmed this week, popular Indian actress Tabu is also joining the project. It will be Sister Francesca, described as strong, intelligent and seductive, who leaves an indelible mark in her wake. Once a great love of the Emperor, her return to the palace strains the balance of power in the capital.

Dune: The Prophecy has not been without problems in the development process. At first Spaihts was going to be the creator. Delays in the production of Dune: Part Two led to Spaihts being dismissed in favor of Diane Ademu-John, hired in July 2021 after participating in The Haunting of Bly Manor. In November 2022, after disagreements with Warner Bros, she left the project in favor of Shapker. Of course, she will maintain the title of co-creator.

There were also changes in management. The Swede Johan Renck was initially hired to direct the pilot and be executive producer but, upon seeing from the studio that he had an authorial approach to the material, he was fired. Shirley Henderson was also fired, who had been hired to play Tula Harkonnen, a character who in the end has Olivia Williams as a replacement.

And when is Dune: The Prophecy expected? If there is no change of plans, it will be seen on Max at the end of 2024.