It was recently announced that Denis Villeneuve will be directing a reboot of Dune, and I couldn’t be more excited. Dune played a huge role in my childhood. You see, like most preteens in the mid 2000’s I was obsessed with the comedian Dane Cook especially his 2003 album Harmful if Swallowed. One particularly memorable routine from the album was Hopped Up on the Q.
In this segment, Dane describes his frustration of trying to perfectly mix Nesquik chocolate into his milk. When he gets powder in his eyes, Dane cries out:
“The move Dune is in my chocolaty drink.”
And that’s the extent of the role Dune played in my life. Get it? The beginning of this post was sarcasm because ultimately the Dune franchise means nothing to me. For years I didn’t understand Dane’s reference and only laughed cuz I laughed at everything Dane Cook said. To this day I have yet to seen that David Fincher disaster nor have I read any of the popular books. Haven’t played the video games. Haven’t seen the tv miniseries.
Obviously, I’m one person, but I can’t recall a time in my life when anyone tried to get me into Dune. Maybe I’m like Erin from the Office and I just don’t get it. But I don’t see a huge fuss being made over this property. I’m pretty confident Dune falls into the Gretchen Weiners Fetch trap. Studios want to make sure a certain old IP is the new thing when ultimately it’s never gonna happen.
But hey, I don’t run the studio so if they want to waste money on a new Dune movie then have fun. The main problem I have with this announcement is that Denis Villeneuve is attached to direct. It’s not that I don’t like the guy. It’s been fascinating to track the Newly nominated for Best Director Denis Villeneuve’s American career.
2013’s Prisoners starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Terrence Howard grossed 122.1 million at the worldwide box office. The R rated drama concerning abducted daughters and how far their parents would go to find them does not scream commercial success (unless it involves Liam Neeson running around Europe killing people). It was critically acclaimed but only received one nomination for Cinematography. You can thank Gravity for being released a week later and becoming the talk of the town.
Sicario was his followup and is another R rated film, which sees Emily Blunt facing off a brutal Mexican drug cartel. Again, doesn’t scream consumer friendly yet made 85 million off a 30 mill budget. This time Denis’ film was able to secure 3 Oscar nominations.
Then 2016 brought us Arrival. The science fiction space invasion, which has about as much action as I.D. Resurgence had character development, is a box office smash at 185 million and counting against a 46 million budget. (It’s at 97.5m domestic so Paramount will keep it around till it hits that 100 mark.) Arrival is nominated for 8 awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Yes, Amy Adams was snub but please don’t cry for her.
Denis Villeneuve has found commercial and critical success in crafting adult skewing films in a wide range of genres (Kidnap Thriller, Drug War, Space Invasion) making him a rarity. Not to mention two of said movies star women while the other film has women making up half the cast.
Sadly all good things must come to an end. Villeneuve’s next film is Blade Runner 2049 starring Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling. I’m not a fan of Blade Runner but I’m at least familiar with the property. Obviously he couldn’t stay franchise/reboot free forever. Yet it’s sad to see that the next film after the Blade reboot is a Dune reboot.
This calls to mind the next line of dialogue in Dane Cook’s chocolate milk routine, “I don’t like when the movie Dune is in my drink.” Well, I don’t like when a movie studio’s attempt at mining an IP like Dune steals my new favorite director.
Because of Dune, I will have to wait longer to see a Denis Villeneuve original film. I’ll probably see the damn Dune movie just so I can see a movie directed by Villeneuve. Dune fans, whoever they are, will see the movie for Dune, but I’ll see it for Denis. In fact I bet many eventual ticket-holders will be there because they liked the dude who did Arrival and Sicario.
Hopefully it’s a win-win for all. The acclaimed director can make fetch…I mean Dune a thing, and the director will get a big enough paycheck to keep producing successful adult skewing dramas.