Dune 3 May Encounter Challenges Stemming from Max’s Prequel Series, Explained

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune movies will be expanding with the series Dune: Prophecy on Max later this year. Here’s why we’re nervous about it.

Timothee Chalamet and Josh Brolin from Dune, with a Sandworm in the background

Denis Villeneuve’s two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s legendary novel Dune has developed a reputation as some of the best sci-fi cinema of the 21st century. Beginning with 2021’s Dune and then continuing with this year’s Dune: Part Two, Villeneuve’s films have established themselves as some of the definitive cinematic works of this decade so far.

In a landscape dominated by never-ending franchises like Star Wars and the MCU, Villeneuve crafted two groundbreaking and thought-provoking blockbusters that harken back to Hollywood’s heyday in the late 20th century.

With his two films, Villeneuve has now covered the entirety of Herbert’s first Dune novel, and the director has been open about his intent to adapt the second book, Dune Messiah, into a third film to complete his trilogy. With the incredible success of Dune: Part Two, a third Dune movie would seem like an easy win in terms of audience interest, but there’s one outside factor that could affect Villeneuve’s film series. That potential hiccup comes in the form of Dune: Prophecy, a prequel series that is set to debut on Max later this year. Here’s what we know:

The Dune: Prophecy Prequel Series

Reverend Mother Gaius and Paul Atreides in Dune

When we say that Dune: Prophecy is a prequel to Villeneuve’s films, we don’t mean in the same way that the Star Wars prequels preceded George Lucas’ original trilogy. It’s not a story about a young Duke Leto or Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV or anything like that. There will be no returning characters in the prequel series, as it is set millennia beforehand. Its story will focus on new characters that lived about 10,000 years before the birth of Paul Atreides, his takeover of Arrakis and the holy war that followed.

Dune: Prophecy is a story about the founding of the Bene Gesserit, the mysterious organization that secretly orchestrates the political dealings of the Imperium and attempts to produce the legendary Kwisatz Haderach through carefully crossing bloodlines. The Bene Gesserit has played a substantial role in Villeneuve’s films, as Paul’s mother, Jessica, is a Bene Gesserit who serves at the behest of the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohaim. The Reverend Mother appears throughout both Dune films, most notably in the opening act of the first film, where she tests Paul with the Gom Jabbar.

Looking beyond the plot, one of the most important things to know about Dune: Prophecy (formerly titled Dune: The Sisterhood) is that it comes mostly from a different creative team. While Denis Villeneuve going to direct a couple of episodes and his co-writer Jon Spaihts was originally hired as the showrunner, neither of those are the case anymore.

The show has gone through many changes and creative reshuffling behind-the-scenes, and it ultimately settled on Alison Schapker (Altered CarbonFringeAlias and more) as the writer and showrunner. Villeneuve remains on-board as an executive producer, though he is no longer going to direct any of the series, as he had to step away to focus on Dune: Part Two.

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