‘Dune’: release date, plot details, cast and everything we know so far

Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi epic might be the most ambitious release this year

While the world right now is turning upside down in more ways than one, the entertainment industry is changing fast in the hope of finding ever more things to look forward to. Enter Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, maybe the biggest thing to look forward to this year.

The Blade Runner 2049 director has never shied away from ambitious projects – there was the gruelling thriller Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, the high-octane drug cartel drama Sicario, and the knockout sci-fi vehicle Arrival, with a career-best performance from Amy Adams.

For his next trick, Villeneuve is going back in time for his most ambitious project yet. In an interview with Vanity Fair, the director said, “It’s by far the most difficult thing I’ve done in my life.”


Here’s everything we know so far about the sci-fi epic ahead of the anticipated release.

Dune release date: when is the film in cinemas?

The film was initially scheduled for global release on December 18. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and Warner Bros’ decision to push the release of Wonder Woman 1984 back to Christmas Day, it will now be released on October 21, 2021.

It is expected to arrive on HBO Max on the same day – though not everyone is happy about the news.

Dune plot: what is the new film about?

Villeneuve’s film adapts the first half of Frank Herbert’s epic 1965 sci-fi novel – a second film has already been planned to follow, as the content was deemed too dense for just one film.

“I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie,” the filmmaker told Vanity Fair. “The world is too complex. It’s a world that takes its power in details.”

The book was due to be made for the big screen by experimental filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky in the ’70s, but the project was dropped as it was deemed impossible.


David Lynch then successfully directed and released his own screen adaptation in 1984, but it was a critical failure and is still deemed overlong and excessively complicated by contemporary viewers.

The basic plot takes place in the future, on a distant desert planet called Arrakis, which is the only place in the universe producing a substance called “the spice”, vital to extend human life, increase thoughts to superhuman levels, and allowing “foldspace” travel possible.

Here, Duke Leto Atreides agrees to take over stewardship the planet, both dangerous and vulnerable. He leads House Atreides and protects “the spice”. Threatening Arrakis are the Harkonnens, led by the Baron.

The story focuses on Paul, Leto’s son, fighting to protect the spice and the planet. It becomes clear that Paul is more than an underdog, as he becomes able to control energy and fight better than anyone for his new world.

Dune cast: who is in it?

It’s a pretty stacked cast. Boy wonder Timothée Chalamet is leading the project as the main character, Paul Atreides. Playing his parents, Lady Jessica and Duke Leto Atreides, are Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac respectively.

Zendaya has been cast as Paul’s mysterious love interest, while Stellan Skarsgård plays the film’s main antagonist, Baron Vladimir of House Harkonnen. Dave Bautista has been cast as Glossu Rabban, a Harkonnen worker.

Playing two warriors mentoring Paul, Duncan Idaho and Gurney Halleck, are Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin respectively. There’s also Charlotte Rampling as the Bene Gesserit reverend mother, and Javier Bardem as Stilgar, leader of the Fremen tribe.

Villeneuve’s film has also updated one of the characters from the book, as Dr. Liet Kynes, the leading ecologist on Arrakis, is usually depicted as a white man. Here, the director has cast Sharon Duncan-Brewster, who last starred in Rogue One.

“What Denis had stated to me was there was a lack of female characters in his cast, and he had always been very feminist, pro-women, and wanted to write the role for a woman,” Duncan-Brewster told Vanity Fair.

“This human being manages to basically keep the peace amongst many people. Women are very good at that, so why can’t Kynes be a woman? Why shouldn’t Kynes be a woman?”

Zendaya later spoke about her role in the movie, saying her part was “very, very small” and she only filmed for four days. “[Denis Villeneuve and I] had a little discussion about who Chani is and the strength she possesses,” she told Empire. “She’s a fighter, that’s what her people are.
“I only really had a few days with her, so I kind of scratched the surface but it was so much fun figuring her out. What does she walk like, what does she talk like? This is her planet, so how does she navigate this world? It was so fun.”

Dune trailer: is there a teaser yet?

The first teaser for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune remake is playing in cinemas ahead of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, reports suggest.

The one minute 37 seconds-long trailer, according to Trailer Track, shows an iconic scene from Frank Herbert’s original novel – the Gom Jabbar Test. Well-known to fans of the source material, the sequence sees protagonist Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) place his hand inside a box. Within seconds, he experiences excruciating pain but if he removes his hand, he’s warned, death will quickly follow. Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson and Jason Momoa also feature in the clip.

The trailer later followed on September 9 – watch it above now.

The main trailer launched on July 22. The preview gives Zendaya’s character, Chani and her planet Arrakis ample screen time. Watch it below.


‘Dune’ is set for release in cinemas on October 21

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