Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune will be 3 movies in total, and Dune: Part 3 is even more important to the seminal sci-fi saga than the upcoming Dune: Part Two. Nonetheless, expectations remain high for the Dune: Part 2 cast, especially after the first movie won 6 Oscars at the 2022 Academy Awards. The initial release date for the much-anticipated action sequel Dune 2 is November 3, 2023. As an adaptation of the second half of Frank Herbert’s social sci-fi masterpiece from 1965, Dune: Part 2 concludes the story of Paul Atreides’ rise to become the emperor of the Known Universe.


The second book, Dune: Messiah, depicts Paul’s true ascent to power. Fortunately, Villeneuve has announced plans of making a Dune trilogy, and the director says Dune Part 3 will be the final one. This could be because Dune 3, which will be based on 1969’s Dune: Messiah, drives home the key message that Herbert wants readers to take away from his work. It’s always a bit of a gamble for directors to rely on hypothetical sequels to drive home the effect of an original film, but given the enormous success of Dune thanks to Villeneuve’s creative vision, Dune 3 will likely quickly follow Dune: Part 2 — and the final installment of Villenvue’s Dune trilogy will be the most important.

Why Dune 3 Is More Important Than Dune 2

Paul in gold armor in Dune

Dune: Messiah is where the repercussions of Emperor Paul Atreides’ actions are truly explored. While Dune 2 makes the original movie much better, Dune 3 will reveal that Paul’s vision of a galactic holy war has come to fruition. In the books, this is the point wherein Paul gets disillusioned by power. Despite achieving perfect prescience, Paul is powerless to stop the Fremen from killing billions in his name. Dune is meant as a warning against following charismatic leaders and messianic figures. Even the most well-meaning, capable, and selfless messiahs can easily make decisions that lead to death and destruction, which is the main point of the Dune saga.

This point is only truly delivered in Dune: Messiah, which Villeneuve will adapt for Dune 3 — if it gets greenlit. Although Dune 2 is crucial to showing Paul’s rise, Dune 3 can not only conclude this journey but also expose its true meaning. Indeed, if Villeneuve stays faithful to Dune: Messiah, the third movie will resolve all debates and criticisms about the first movie playing to the classic white savior narrative. It will also be interesting to see how Villeneuve adapts the trials, awakening, and eventual death of Paul. For Dune star Timothée Chalamet, this point in the Dune saga could be a defining moment in his acting career.

Villeneuve’s Dune was always intended to be a trilogy. Considering the success of the first Dune movie and the building anticipation for the sequel, Villeneuve’s chances of making the Dune 3 movie seem positive. This is especially the case following the overwhelming response to the Dune: Part Two trailer, which sees Paul riding on a sandworm.

Dune 4 & 5 Won’t Happen (And That’s Not A Bad Thing)

Split image of Dune book covers with Paul Atreides

Villeneuve’s Dune movie series will consist of 3 movies in total, ending with the conclusion of Dune: Messiah, which actually bodes well for Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi legacy. It would be an understatement to say that the later books in the Dune saga will be extremely difficult to adapt for the screen. While Villeneuve stopping at Dune: Part Three may be disappointing to those who would have preferred a deeper exploration, it could also protect his remake from the excesses of the novels.

Children of Dune, which follows Dune: Messiah, has already been adapted into a miniseries with a cult following, and Villeneuve’s Dune being only 3 movies long prevents any comparison with the miniseries. However, what would truly be a difficult feat to pull off is adapting the fourth book, God Emperor of Dune, which reveals the thousands of years that follow after Paul Atreides’ grandson Leto II fuses with a sand trout and becomes a sandworm-human hybrid. Although the true lessons of Dune are only truly apparent in the final books, Villeneuve’s completed Dune trilogy is bound to be a faithful interpretation of Paul Atreides’ story.

Adapting The Dune Saga In Full May Not Be Possible

Paul Atreides talking to the Fremen Army in Dune 2

Villeneuve ultimately doesn’t have the final say when it comes to how many movies in the Dune series will be made, as Wagner Bros. can decide to make Dune 4 without his involvement, especially if Dune 3 is a box office hit (not that there’s anything to suggest they would). The franchise can easily continue given how many books there are, and the studio is already making the series Dune: The Sisterhood for HBO Max, which will be set 10,000 years before the first Dune movie. However, just because Warner Bros. can make Dune 4 doesn’t mean it should, as the world-building could simply too epic in scale to adapt beyond the first story in the Dune universe.

Not only does Children of Dune feature a sandworm-human hybrid, but all the sequels generally have much greater scope and ambition than the last. The Dune novels have often been called “unfilmable” (via Time), and even Villeneuve had to split the very first novel into two movies just to include the basics. Regardless of whether the ideas work in the Dune novel sequels, they’d be almost possible to pull off in a live-action Dune 4 that makes sense by many estimations, both from filmmakers and scholars of Frank Herbet’s work. It’s ultimately for the best that the series will likely end with Dune: Part 3, and it’d take a brave director and bold studio to try and buoy the story forward into Dune 4.

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