Dune is one of those novels that is clearly very difficult to adapt into a film. It's been tried a couple of times before, and arguably neither the David Lynch adaptation from the '80s or the later TV miniseries really nailed it. When director Denis Villeneuve came on board the newest version, it was decided that one way to potentially make it work was to split Dune into two films. And while the second movie has yet to be officially given the greenlight, there's a pretty solid chance it will happen. But if it does, don't expect one screenwriter of the first film to be back.
Eric Roth, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for Forrest Gump and was nominated for the most recent remake of A Star is Born, wrote the screenplay for Dune alongside Denis Villeneuve and Passengers scribe Jon Spaihts. The buzz surrounding the movie has been strong, which has only increased the odds that the story will be finished up and the second movie will get made. And while one might expect that everybody who worked on the first movie would be back for part two, Roth tells Collider that, despite writing a treatment for the second film, he thinks he's done with the project. According to the writer himself,
I [wrote] a treatment to show the estate what we could do with the second half, but I’ve got to tell you that I think I've done as much as I can do. I also have other things I want to do. I'm 76 years old, and these things obviously take a long time to do. And so I have a few others I'm excited about. And hopefully people love Dune so much that they do want to have a second part, and I'm sure Denis would do amazing version of that.
So while Eric Roth looks forward to seeing the second Dune movie, he's not that interested in writing it. Still, perhaps he could be talked into it; it doesn't seem like he's shutting the door on the idea entirely. But there are some other things he wants to write, and so he's happy to let somebody else work on this one.
Dune is expected to hit HBO Max and theaters simultaneously. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.
The current reports indicate that Jon Spaihts is the one that has been tasked with early work on the script for the second Dune movie. Having said that, the movie still has not been given the go-ahead by Warner Bros. Considering the size, scope, and expense of the first movie, and the fact that Dune is not a proven box office success, WB likely wants to wait and see how it does before moving forward.
Of course, there are other factors at play. Dune was officially announced as one of the movies that would release on HBO Max on the same day it hit theaters, but the backlash to that announcement, from director Denis Villeneuve among others, has put some doubt in that. Whether or not Dune hits HBO Max, the bigger question will likely be the state of theatrical distribution come October when the movie is set to open. Whether or not this Dune is a box office success could have less to do with the movie itself and more to do with other factors.