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Zendaya, Timothee Chalamet, in Dune
Via Instagram/@dunemovie

Everything we know about Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two so far

Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, and more have joined the Timothée Chalamet-starring sequel, which starts filming this week

The first part of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, released in 2021, ended at essentially the halfway point of the Frank Herbert novel, as (spoiler alert) Paul Atreides joins the Fremen with the goal of bringing peace to the desert planet Arrakis. Thankfully, the film was also a commercial and critical success despite its controversial release, and Villeneuve got the official go-ahead to start working on part two late last year.

Now, the director has finally started shooting Dune: Part Two, aiming for a November 2023 theatrical release. Needless to say, Timothée Chalamet will be returning as the prophetic protagonist, alongside Zendaya’s Chani and a host of new faces, who will fill out the cast of warring characters in the Dune universe.

“The thing that helps us right now is that it’s the first time I’ve revisited a universe,” Villeneuve told Variety earlier this year, on filming the sequel. “So I’m working with the same crew, everybody knows what to do, we know what it will look like. The movie will be more challenging, but we know where we are stepping.”

Of course, anything could get in the way of production as the cast and crew sandwalk their way toward the projected release date, given the fragile state of the world right now and Villeneuve’s obsessive attention to detail, which saw him spend a whole year redesigning the sandworms alone for Dune: Part One. In the meantime, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about Dune: Part Two so far.

IT HAS AN (INTER)STELLAR CAST

Dune: Part One was already a star-studded affair. Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac (whose piercing, Daddy Atreides gaze will be dearly missed in the sequel) played Chalamet’s parents, alongside the likes of Jason Momoa, Charlotte Rampling, and Javier Bardem. Currently, Chalamet, Zendaya, Ferguson, Bardem, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Rampling, and Stephen McKinley Henderson are confirmed to be returning for Dune: Part Two

Even more notable are the new cast members, such as Elvis star Austin Butler, who will play Feyd-Rautha (AKA the villain played by Sting in David Lynch’s ill-fated Dune adaptation). He will join the franchise for the first time alongside Florence Pugh, Léa Seydoux, Souheila Yacoub, and the new Emperor, Christopher Walken.

WE’LL SEE A LOT MORE OF CHANI

While Dune: Part One was met with almost universal acclaim, there was one outstanding complaint amid a certain set of viewers: not enough Zendaya. Thankfully, Villeneuve, Chalamet, and an army of over-eager sci fi novel enthusiasts have been quick to reassure fans that we’ll be seeing more of her Fremen character, Chani, in the follow-up.

“Chani will play a huge role in the film,” said Chalamet in August last year, speculating about Part Two based on Herbert’s book (which sees her become Atreides’ concubine). The same month, Villeneuve said he “can’t wait” to get Chalamet and Zendaya back together, noting that the latter will play a much larger role this time around.

THE PLOT WILL FOCUS ON PAUL ATREIDES’ REVENGE

The plot of Dune: Part Two may not be too surprising for those that have already read the 1965 novel, given Villeneuve’s faithful adaptation of the first half. For everyone else, an official synopsis from Warner Bros. and Legendary hints at what to expect: “This follow-up film will explore the mythic journey of Paul Atreides as he unites with Chani and the Fremen while on a warpath of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family.”

As a messiah figure to the Fremen, he must also attempt to avert the terrible future that he alone can foresee: an apocalyptic Holy War in his name, that could change the fate of the known universe.

THE AWARD-WINNING CREW IS BACK ON BOARD

Dune received ten nominations at the 2021 Academy Awards, and took home six, for best original score, plus best sound, editing, cinematography, production design, and visual effects. Not too surprising, then, that Villeneuve has brought the family back together for Dune: Part Two, including cinematographer Greig Fraser, costume designer Jacqueline West, makeup, hair and prosthetic designer Donald Mowat, production designer Patrice Vermette, editor Joe Walker, visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert, and special effects supervisor Gerd Nefzer.

According to Variety, filming began this week, and shoots will happen on location in Budapest, Abu Dhabi, Jordan and Italy.

Hans Zimmer, whose music is credited with making Dune: Part One so atmospheric, will also create the score a second time. Hopefully this time he won’t have to supervise his 32-person choir over FaceTime, like he did at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

IT MIGHT NOT BE THE END OF THE DUNE STORY

To quote Chani: “This is only the beginning.”

Denis Villeneuve floated the idea that the Dune franchise could evolve into a trilogy back in 2021, saying that the third film could revolve around Frank Herbert’s Dune follow-up, Dune Messiah. According to Villeneuve, the book – which continues the tragic tale of the all-powerful Paul Atreides – “could make an extraordinary film”.

In fact, Villeneuve has even teased going beyond a mere trilogy, which given Herbert’s five sequels doesn’t seem out of the question. “I always saw that there could be a trilogy; after that, we’ll see,” the filmmaker says. “It’s years of work. I can’t think of going further than that.”