Everything we know about Dune: Part Three

Warner Bros. Discovery hasn't officially announced that they're making Dune: Part Three, but the groundwork is already being laid. It's happening.
ZENDAYA as Chani in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
ZENDAYA as Chani in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Dune: Part Two is now out in theaters, bringing to an end director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's iconic 1965 science fiction novel. It is a very good movie.

It also stands to make a lot of money, which means that we well see another Dune movie in the future. Warner Bros. Discovery, the studio behind the movie, is already working on a TV show called Dune: Prophecy to air on Max later this year.

But what about the mainline Dune series. Herbert wrote five more Dune books before his death in 1986. Villeneuve has expressed interest in adapting the second Dune book, Dune Messiah, for film. That would be Dune: Part Three. “If I succeed in making a trilogy, that would be the dream,” he told Empire.

When will Dune: Part Three come out?

WBD hasn't officially announced yet that they're going to make Dune: Part Three, but Villeneuve is already at work on it. “There’s the dream of making the addition of Dune Messiah, the third movie, that will be the end of the journey of Paul Atriedes,” he said during a press conference. “It would make absolute sense for me to do this movie. That movie is being written right now. The screenplay is almost finished, but it’s not finished. It will take a little time.” (Dune Messiah is a shorter book than Dune, so you would only need one movie to adapt it, rather than splitting it in two.)

He said that in December of 2023. Months later, the script for Dune Messiah is probably even closer to completion. Unless Dune: Part Two tanks at the box office, which seems very unlikely, we will very probably be watching Dune: Part Three from Villeneuve and company sooner or later.

Unfortunately, it might be later, because Villeneuve has said that although he wants to return to the world of Dune eventually, he also wants a break after working so hard on the first two movies. “I don’t know exactly when I will go back to Arrakis,” he said during that same press conference. “I might make a detour before just to go away from the sun. For my mental sanity, I might do something in between.”

This likely means that we won't see Dune: Part Three in 2025, and probably not 2026 either. We would guess it'll come out in 2027 at the absolute earliest. “There is absolutely a desire to have a third one, but I don’t want to rush it,” Villeneuve told The Times of London.

TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

What is Dune Part Three about?

A break could serve the story well, because Dune Messiah takes place some years after the ending of Dune. (Beware SPOILERS for Dune: Part Two below.)

Dune Messiah picks up well after the end of Dune, which climaxed with Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) leading the Fremen in as assault on the emperor of the entire galaxy and then taking his place. In Dune Messiah, Paul is settled in his role as emperor, if not particularly happy with the job. He's married to the old emperor's daughter, Princess Irulan (played by Florence Pugh in Dune: Part Two). Paul's paramour Chani (Zendaya) is still with him, but they are not married.

As you might be able to pick up from the description, Dune Messiah is bit more of an intimate drama than Dune. We spend a lot of time on these unorthodox family dynamics. Also, there are forces out there in the galaxy who want to remove Paul from power. Meanwhile, he is still struggling with his prescient visions. It's a more insular story than the first book.

Since the characters are all a bit older, it makes sense to wait a while so the actors can age up. And it sounds like that's what Villeneuve has in mind.

Anya Taylor-Joy, Souheila Yacoub, Zendaya, Timothée Chalamet, Denis Villeneuve, Austin Butler, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Florence Pugh, Léa Seydoux
"Dune: Part Two" New York Premiere / Dimitrios Kambouris/GettyImages

Will the actors from the first two Dune movies be in Dune: Part Three?

Actors seem to like working with Denis Villeneuve. Would the cast of Dune return for Part Three? Zendaya spoke for a group of them during an interview with Fandango. “Would we be down? I mean of course,” she said. “Any time Denis calls it’s a yes from me. I’m excited to see what happens."

Zendaya said this while sitting on a couch with Chalamet, Pugh, Javier Bardem (Stilgar) and Josh Brolin (Gurney Halleck), all of whose characters figure into the later Dune books. That's no guarantee that they feel as strongly as she does, but the odds seem good that Villeneuve could get the band back together, as well as introduce us to new characters from the newer novels. Zendaya even read ahead a bit, just to prepare. "I started Messiah and I was like, ‘Woah, I’m only shooting the first movie. Let me just go back to the first one.’ It’s so much to take in, but there’s no better hands with better care and love for it than Denis."

Villenueve seems to have this in mind, too; he cast certain actors thinking about how they could factor into later movies. “When I approached Zendaya for Part One, I said, ‘I'm going to introduce your character, and if it is a second movie, then you will be one of the main protagonists.’ And she agreed,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I made the same deal with Florence. Her character is introduced in Part Two, but then if there is an adaptation of Dune Messiah, of course Princess Irulan is one of the main characters in that story.”

So even though we don't have an official announcement for Dune: Part Three, the groundwork is being laid. But what about the books beyond Dune Messiah?

Will Denis Villeneuve adapt ?

After Dune Messiah, Frank Herbert wrote four other Dune books: Children of Dune (1976), God Emperor of Dune (1981), Heretics of Dune (1984) and Chapterhouse: Dune (1985). Villeneuve plans to direct Messiah, but as he told TIME, "Dune Messiah should be the last Dune movie for me." He considers the books after Messiah to be a bit "esoteric."

The upshot is that Villeneuve has no plans to adapt Children of Dune, although there will certainly be pressure on him to do it anyway if Dune: Part Two and then Dune: Part Three are successes.

Personally, I hope Villeneuve changes his mind somewhere down the line. He says that Dune Messiah marks "the end of the journey of Paul Atriedes," and in a way it certainly does, but if you're read Children of Dune, you know there's a bit more of the story left to tell.

I agree with Villeneuve that the later Dune books get a bit odd. After Children of Dune, the story skips ahead thousands of years, so most of the characters we remember from the first three books are no longer around (with some exceptions because of, basically, space magic). But most of them are still here for Children of Dune, and have meaty roles to play. I think a Children of Dune adaptation would be a great way to send off this amazing cast. And then if someone else wants to give the franchise a weird reboot by adapting God Emperor of Dune, more power to them.

Plus, we know a Children of Dune adaptation can work. The Sci-Fi Channel adaapted it as a TV miniseries called Frank Herbert's Children of Dune in 2003 (starring a young James McAvoy as Paul's son Leto, FYI). Despite the limited budget, it was pretty good!

The books don't get really weird until God Emperor of Dune, and I think Danis Villeneuve and his team could crush a big screen version of Children of Dune, which like the first novel is a big enough book that it could adapted as two movies: Dune: Part Four and Dune: Part Five. But we'll cross that bridge when and if we come to it. For the moment, you can see Dune: Part Two in theaters right now.

All 6 Dune books by Frank Herbert, ranked worst to best. dark. Next. Dune

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