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Everything you need to know about Dune: Part Three (Dune Messiah)

Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet as Chani and Paul looking to the distance in Dune.
Warner Bros. Pictures

In 1984, director David Lynch’s Dune attempted to bring the entirety of Frank Herbert’s original novel to the big screen in a single film. Four decades later, with Dune: Part One and Dune: Part Two, Denis Villeneuve has achieved the box office success that eluded Lynch. Narratively, Villeneuve has reached the same point that Lynch did. The key difference is that Villeneuve will have a chance to continue the story on the big screen in Dune: Part Three, or Dune Messiah as it’s sometimes referenced due to the novel it’s going to be based on.

Although the next sequel is still in a very early stage, it’s no secret that Dune 3 is on the horizon, and it’s something that Villeneuve has openly spoken about. Now it’s time to bring those threads together and share everything you need to know about Dune: Part Three.

Is Dune: Part Three officially going forward?

A man stands in front of a crowd in Dune: Part Two.
Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment have not yet officially announced Dune: Part Three. But given the sequel’s $82 million domestic opening, that announcement could come very soon. However, a Deadline report from April 4 stated Villeneuve and Legendary are developing Dune: Messiah as the “conclusion of the trilogy.”

Unofficially, Villeneuve has spoken about his plans to adapt Dune: Messiah, the second novel in Herbert’s series. During a recent interview with The Times, Villeneuve also stated that he is in no hurry to rush the film into theaters. “There is absolutely a desire to have a third one, but I don’t want to rush it,” said Villeneuve. “The danger in Hollywood is that people get excited and only think about release dates, not quality.”

Paul walks in the desert in Dune: Part Two.
Warner Bros.

Although there is a 12-year gap between the events of Dune and Dune: Messiah, it’s unlikely that Villeneuve will wait that long before getting started. Especially since Villeneuve has already signaled to composer Hans Zimmer that he wants him to start thinking about the musical themes for Dune: Part Three.

“Denis comes in on the second day of shooting [Dune: Part Two], and wordlessly comes in and puts Dune: Messiah on my desk, and I know where we’re going, and I know we’re not done,” said Zimmer during an interview with Variety.

Will Dune: Part Three be Denis Villeneuve’s next film?

A man looks worried in Dune: Part Two.
Warner Bros.

No. Villeneuve has indicated that he has a different film in mind for his next project, which would give him a break between the second movie and the concluding chapter of his trilogy. In a profile in The Hollywood Reporter, Villeneuve said that he is currently working on four projects, including a Dune sequel.

“I currently have four projects on the table,” related Villeneuve. “One of them is a secret project that I cannot talk about right now but that needs to see the light of day quite quickly. So it would be a good idea to do something in between projects before tackling Dune Messiah and Cleopatra. All these projects are still being written, so we’ll see where they go, but I have no control over that.”

While his next movie is still up in the air, Villeneuve found a future project after his time in the Dune universe. According to Deadline, Legendary has optioned Annie Jacobsen’s nonfiction book Nuclear War: A Scenario as a “potential reteam” with Villeneuve. The report states Villeneuve would likely work on Nuclear War: A Scenario after completing Dune: Messiah.

What happens at the end of Dune: Part Two?

Gurney looking at Paul in Dune: Part Two.
Warner Bros. Pictures

After killing Baron Harkonnen, Paul challenges Shaddam for the throne and declares his intentions to marry Princess Irulan. In a knife duel, Paul defeats the Emperor’s champion, Feyd-Rautha. After threatening to destroy the spice reserves with warheads, the Emperor bows to Paul and kisses his signet ring. Princess Irulan agrees to the marriage request, and Paul spares the Emperor’s life.

When the Great Houses refuse to acknowledge Paul as Emperor, he orders the Fremen troops to attack them, igniting the Muad’Dib’s holy war at the end of Dune: Part Two. While Fremen troops board ships, Chani refuses to acknowledge Paul as Emperor and waits to ride a sandworm into the desert.

Which cast members are coming back for Dune: Part Three?

The cast of Dune: Part Two in a poster for the film.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Since the third film has yet to be officially announced, there’s no indication that the studio has locked down its stars for another movie. From a narrative standpoint, and barring any major recastings, Dune: Part Three would need to bring back Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken, and Javier Bardem.

Additionally, since Villeneuve went out of his way to secretly cast Anya Taylor-Joy in a surprise role in Part Two, it stands to reason that she would also come back for the sequel.

When will Dune: Part Three be released?

Timothée Chalament and Austin Butler as Paul and Feyd-Rautha having a knife duel in Dune: Part Two.
Warner Bros. Pictures

As noted above, Villeneuve does not want to rush the sequel to meet an arbitrary release date. Assuming Villeneuve’s next project takes two to three years to reach the big screen, it would theoretically take the same amount of time to put Dune: Part Three together.

This could mean that we won’t see Dune: Part Three in theaters until somewhere between 2028 and 2030. However, WB and Legendary have plans to keep the Dune franchise alive in the interim.

Will there be a Dune: Part Four?

Assuming Dune: Part Three is also a success years from now, there could very well be an adaptation of Herbert’s third novel of the series, Children of Dune, which takes place several years after Dune: Messiah.

However, Villeneuve has shown little interest in remaining with the franchise to adapt that book. If he decides to leave and the franchise is set to continue, another filmmaker would have to be chosen to bring that story to life.

Is there a Dune spinoff series coming to Max?

Zendaya as Chani and] Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica in Dune: Part Two.
Warner Bros. Pictures/Legendary Entertainment

Yes. The show will be called Dune: Prophecy and it’s based on the 2012 prequel novel Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The series takes place 10,000 years before the events of Dune, and it introduces viewers to the founders of the Bene Gesserit, Valya Harkonnen (Emily Watson), and her sister, Tula Harkonnen (Olivia Williams). The rest of the cast includes Jodhi May, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Shalom Brune-Franklin as Mikaela, Faoileann Cunningham, Aoife Hinds, Chloe Lea, Travis Fimmel, and Mark Strong.

Filming for the first season has already been completed, and Dune: Prophecy is expected to premiere on Max later this year. Given the newfound popularity of the franchise among the general public, it’s also likely to be given a big promotional push when the premiere date rolls around. Don’t be shocked if Max brings out the main cast to this year’s San Diego Comic-Con for the official unveiling of the first trailer in Hall H. Dune: Prophecy is the kind of project that was built for that stage.

How many Dune novels are there?

The cover art to Dune Messiah.
Putnam

Frank Herbert wrote six Dune novels before his death in 1986. In 1999, Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, and novelist Kevin J. Anderson revived the Dune universe with the first of 17 novels to date that have explored the events that took place thousands of years before the first book, as well as stories that serve as sequels to Herbert’s primary narrative. In short, there’s plenty of Dune material for future movies, TV shows, video games, and beyond.