Plot, Cast, and Everything Else We Know

Spoiler Warning: This article may contain details that would be considered spoilers for Dune: Part Two and the other Dune novels.

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune was nothing short of sublime. It is a near-perfect adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel. Something many believed was impossible because of Herbert’s rich world-building in the novels. Villeneuve’s Dune manages to achieve the rare feat of appeasing pre-existing fans of the books as well as pulling in a new set of viewers. Much to the excitement of fans, new and old, the spice will continue to flow, as a second film was greenlit soon after the release of the first. Dune: Part Two is currently scheduled for release on March 15, 2024.

“It was a dream of mine to adapt Frank Herbert’s Dune, and I have the fans, the cast, and crew, Legendary, and Warner Bros. to thank for supporting this dream. This is only the beginning,” said Villeneuve soon after the sequel was greenlit. In a reassuring statement, he added, “The thing that helps us right now is that it’s the first time I’ve revisited a universe. 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. And the screenplay is written. So I feel confident.”

Villeneuve had originally expressed doubts about the pandemic causing possibly unforeseen delays, but filming was able to continue as restrictions eased. However, the double whammy of strikes from both the Writers Guild of America and the actor’s guild, SAG-AFTRA, finally led Warner Bros. Discovery to push the release date from an expected November 2023 release to the new date in March 2024. Still, Dune: Part Two is coming, so let’s delve into everything we know about the film so far.

Update September 4, 2023: This article has been updated by Valerie Parker with additional content, including updated information regarding the release of Dune: Part Two.

Dune: Part Two – The Plot

Dune Part Two how it differs
Warner Bros. Entertainment

While the first film beautifully sets up the history and politics of the world of Dune, the story ends on a cliffhanger. Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), join the Fremen in their fight to bring peace to Arrakis. On their way to the home of the Fremen, Paul spots a Fremen member riding a sandworm, something he eventually learns to do himself.

Villeneuve always planned to split the 800-page novel into two parts. It was part of the deal between Legendary and Warner Bros. that lead Villeneuve to come on board. He told IndieWire he chose to end part one where Paul joins the Fremen because it would keep audiences hankering for more:

“If you look at Paul’s trajectory, which is a boy that is trying to find his place in the world and at the end becomes finally an adult by being able to step in front, it’s a very important moment in a young man’s life to stake his ground. Paul’s arc is complete for that first part. Now the fact that people are coming out saying, ‘I wanted more,’ is a total victory!”

Dune: Part Two will focus on Paul’s rise to power and the subsequent rebellion against the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. Paul will adopt the name ​​Muad’Dib, the Fremen name for the resilient desert mouse Paul and his mother encounter on their way to finding the Fremen. The sequel will introduce Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), eldest daughter of the Emperor and Anirul, another member of the mysterious matriarchal order, Bene Gesserit, to which Lady Jessica belongs. Paul enters into a political marriage with Princess Irulan. She happens to be the book’s narrator and a key character kept out of the first film, which mainly focused on House Atreides, the Bene Gesserit, and Paul’s introduction to the world outside his home planet, Caladan.

Related: Why Was Dune 2 Delayed (And What Movies Could Be Next)?

Zendaya, who plays Fremen warrior Chani and Paul’s love interest, may have had only seven minutes of screen time in the first film, but she will play a more prominent part in the sequel. Apart from a lot more Zendaya, expect a lot more of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), along with House of Harkonnen and the Fremen in the sequel. The film will also introduce Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler), heir to the House of Harkonnen and the younger nephew of Baron Vladimir. The role was played by rocker Sting in the 1984 David Lynch adaptation, which was panned for being quite a disaster.

The sequel will chart Paul’s rise as Kwisatz Haderach, a super being and a messiah with mental powers that would bridge space and time, born out of a breeding program led by the Bene Gesserit’s manipulations. It will also have a new Atreides member, the daughter of Lady Jessica, and the late Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), Alia Atreides, who will become a pivotal character going forward. Dune also left out details about Lady Jessica’s parentage, which will also be a big reveal for that section of the audience new to the Dune story.

Dune: Part Two – The Cast

Florence Pugh as the Princess Irulan in Dune: Part Two
Warner Bros. Pictures

Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem (as a Fremen leader Stilgar), Josh Brolin (as the faithful Atreides Warmaster, Gurney Halleck), Dave Bautista (as the Baron’s sadistic henchman Glossu Rabban), and Stellan Skarsgård will be returning to the second installment. Expanding the star-studded cast will be new additions Florence Pugh and Austin Butler.

Pugh will be playing Princess Irulan, and Butler is set to portray Feyd-Rautha. Other notable cast members include Christopher Walker as the Shaddam IV, the Padishah Emperor of the Known Kingdom. Tim Blake Nelson is cast in an undisclosed role. Léa Seydoux will be playing a Bene Gesserit with close ties to the Emperor.

Will Dune Be a Trilogy?

Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Dune: Part Two
Warner Bros. Pictures

Villeneuve has expressed interest in adapting Herbert’s 1969 sequel novel, Dune Messiah, into a third film, but only time will tell if we are getting just these two films, a trilogy, or a whole franchise out of this sci-fi series. If that does pan out, then Jason Momoa’s Duncan Idaho may have a way of being resurrected as a ghola, which were essentially clones. Paul’s vision of an intergalactic holy war being raged in his name, where the Fremen end up killing billions, occurs in Dune Messiah. Given the reception Dune received and how highly anticipated the sequel is, a trilogy doesn’t seem unlikely.

Related: Dune: How Many Films Could We See Released?

A spin-off television series is in the works. Dune: The Sisterhood is being developed as a streaming series for Max. The series will be a prequel to the films and focus on the Bene Gesserit. The series has undergone some production issues, but it will hopefully happen soon. Warner Bros. has a lot invested in Dune being one of their major cross-media franchises, one that can compete with Disney’s Star Wars or Paramount’s Star Trek.

Release Date

Dune Part Two
Warner Bros. Pictures

Dune: Part Two had completed principal photography and was on track for its fall release date. Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros originally had planned for an exclusive theatrical release on November 3, 2023. This film was set to be one of the biggest movies of the fall season and even had an exclusive hold on IMAX screens.

However, due to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike for a fair contract with the AMPTP that shows no signs of ending anytime soon, Warner Bros. has pushed back the release date to March 15, 2024. Now Dune: Part Two will open in a crowded month that currently includes A Quiet Place: Day One, Kung Fu Panda 4, Snow White, and the Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel. While many of these release dates are subject to change, the spring release date for Dune: Part Two will certainly be interesting to test the franchise’s long-term viability.

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