Boy, they weren’t kidding when they ended Dune with the line “This is only the beginning.”

Director Denis Villeneuve always wanted to turn Frank Herbert’s book into two movies, so he made his Dune covering just the first half of the story. Dune: Part Two was officially greenlit this week, so that movie is happening. It might not end the franchise, though, at least not if Villeneuve gets his way.

He told Entertainment Weekly in a new interview that he “always envisioned three movies” for Dune. “This is Dune,” he explained. “And Dune is a huge story. In order to honor it, I think you would need at least three movies. That would be the dream. To follow Paul Atreides and his full arc would be nice.”

Herbert actually wrote six Dune novels, and Villeneuve says he’s not even sure some of them could be adapted. (They get pretty weird the further the story goes.) “One thing at a time,” Villeneuve said, “If I ever have the chance to do Dune: Part Two and Dune Messiah, I'm blessed."

Dune Messiah is the second of Herbert’s Dune books, and takes place about a decade after the first Dune. It follows the Paul Atreides character as he struggles to maintain control over his empire. It was previously adapted as part of the Sci-Fi Channel’s second Dune miniseries, Children of Dune. Following Dune Messiah, Paul is written out of the series and other characters become the focus. (Sci-Fi’s Children of Dune starred a young James McAvoy as Leto II, Paul Atreides’ son.) That’s what Villeneuve means when he talks about Paul’s full arc. You could do that with movies based on just two of the books, not all six.

Dune: Part Two is scheduled to open in theaters on October 20, 2023.

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