Frank Herbert Film Adaptations 🎥

Over the years, there have been many attempts to create a cinematic representation for Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune.’ However, early attempts were thwarted by ‘Dune’s’ complex vocabulary and the story’s scope of action.

Frank Herbert

American Author

Frank Herbert took six years to create the complex language and physical structures of ‘Dune.’ With the complexity imbibed into the story, filming was hard. Early attempts failed due to both tragic situations and a lack of financing. 

Frank Herbert Film Adaptations

The earliest attempt to make ‘Dune’ a film was in 1971 when the production company Apjac International (APJ) got rights to film the novel. The company headed by Arthur P. Jacobs was on the verge of adopting the book to television. However, there was a delay in making writing the screenplay for the film. Finally, Rospo Pallenberg got hired to write the script for the film. Sadly, before production could begin, Arthur died, setting back hope for the adaptation of the book.

In 1974, the rights to filming ‘Dune’ was purchased from APJ by a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon. With Alejandro Jodorowski being the director. However, the film ran out of financial backing, which led to it not hitting production.

In 1978, Frank Herbert got hired by De Laurentiis to write a screenplay for ‘Dune’ after he got rights to filming. However, after Frank Herbert turned in a 175 paged script and pre-production had begun, director Ridley Scott backed out due to his brother’s death. He stated:

But after seven months I dropped out of Dune, by then Rudy Wurlitzer had come up with a first-draft script which I felt was a decent distillation of Frank Herbert’s. But I also realised Dune was going to take a lot more work—at least two and a half years’ worth. And I didn’t have the heart to attack that because my older brother Frank unexpectedly died of cancer while I was prepping the De Laurentiis picture. Frankly, that freaked me out. So I went to Dino and told him the Dune script was his.

In 1981, De Laurentiis renegotiated the rights to filming ‘Dune’ and offered the director position to David Lynch, who also got an offer to direct Return of The Jedi. David Lynch accepted the offer even with no clue about the book as he had not read it yet. Finally, in 1984, a film was released directed by Lynch. Though Frank was pleased with the film’s outcome, it received negative reviews because the film was not self-explanatory, and it needed a person to have read to book to understand it.

In 2000, John Harrison Adapted ‘Dune’ into a miniseries called Frank Herbert’s Dune on the Sci-Fi channel. The show soon became one of Sci-Fi’s highest-rated programs as of 2004. In 2008, Paramount Pictures stated its plan to produce a film based on Frank Herbert’s novel, and Peter Berg got picked as director. However, Peter left before the film took off saying it was not the right thing for him. Paramount finally dropped plans to adapt after the second director, Pierre Morel, left the project in 2010.

Finally, in November 2016, Legendary Entertainment acquired the rights to film ‘Dune,’ and in February 2017, Denis Villeneuve got hired as director. With the nature of the novel, Denis decided to make the film two parts with an all-star cast comprising of Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Dave Bautista as Rabban, Zendaya as Chani, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Harkonnen, and Oscar Isaac as Leto Atreides.


How many Dune adaptations are there?

There are two full-length adaptations of ‘Dune.’ The first is the 1984 adaptation, and the second is the 2021 adaptation. 

Has Dune part 2 been shot?

For now, Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ sequel is yet to be shot as the film is set to hit the cinema in 2023.

Is Paul the villain in Dune?

No, Paul is the hero and main character in ‘Dune.’

What is Dune’s rating?

‘Dune’ is rated 8.2 out of 10 on IMDb, 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 74% on Metacritic.

Joshua Ehiosun
About Joshua Ehiosun
Joshua is an undying lover of literary works. With a keen sense of humor and passion for coining vague ideas into state-of-the-art worded content, he ensures he puts everything he's got into making his work stand out. With his expertise in writing, Joshua works to scrutinize pieces of literature.
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