The runtime for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune has been revealed and it’s shorter than Blade Runner 2049. David Lynch was the first director to deliver an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sprawling sci-fi novel and the result was a legendary bomb (that nevertheless has its cult of devotees).
Lynch’s maligned version of Dune indeed only served to reinforce the notion that Herbert’s book is just too dense with characters and world-building to be successfully adapted into a single feature film. Appropriately then, the next time someone took a crack at Dune it was as a TV mini-series, but what that version gained in length it lost in epic scope. Now acclaimed filmmaker Villeneuve is trying his hand at Dune, and he wants the best of both worlds: enough time to tell the story properly, and enough scope to do justice to Herbert’s epic vision. But it remains to be seen if splitting Dune into two huge and very cinematic movies will result in an experience that finally satisfies fans of Herbert’s sci-fi classic.
Details have indeed begun trickling out about the first part of Villeneuve’s planned two-part Dune movie and as it happens it’s not ridiculously long by today’s standards. As revealed by La Presse, part one of Dune runs for 155 minutes or two hours and 35 minutes. This is longer than the Lynch Dune, which came in at just 137 minutes, but of course was notoriously butchered.
There was certainly a time when the idea of a 155-minute mainstream science fiction movie would have seemed ridiculous but nowadays there are even superhero movies that exceed that length by a long way. Avengers: Endgame indeed passed the three-hour mark, a realm normally reserved for Oscar-worthy epics. For comparison, Villeneuve’s own sci-fi movie Blade Runner 2049 was actually longer than Dune at 163 minutes. Of course length was arguably an issue for the Blade Runner sequel, as it underperformed with only $260 million at the box office. And very long superhero movies like Endgame can obviously get away with making audiences stay put as they’re highly-anticipated installments in well-established franchises with massive followings.
Dune needless to say is not a well-established franchise with a massive following but a niche title that appeals to more hardcore sci-fi fans. And this is no doubt why Warner Bros. appears to be hedging its bets somewhat when it comes to Villeneuve’s vision. For one thing, the studio did not allow Villeneuve to film his movies back-to-back but is waiting on box office returns for the first part before they give the go-ahead on part two. And the lengthy-but-not-ridiculous runtime for the first half of Dune would also appear to be a compromise. If Dune were to exceed expectations and be a big hit, no doubt Warners would unleash Villeneuve a little more and let him make a longer part two. It’s yet to be seen how much of Dune can be told in 155 minutes, but trailers suggest what is there will be truly epic.
Source: La Presse