(Photo by Universal Pictures/ courtesy Everett Collection)
Director Denis Villeneuve has called Dune the “longstanding dream.” He’s not alone. Since 1965, the Frank Herbert epic has been a bewitching vision shared between the minds of adventurous readers, worming deep into the psyche of grand science-fiction devotees. Of course, Villeneuve stands out among Dune fans – he’s the first one in decades who gets to turn the novel into a movie. Like the book, it will follow the path of royal Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), his training in psychokinetic arts, and his family’s arrival to rule desert planet Arrakis, the galaxy’s sole source of a powerful mineral mixture called spice.
Dune will release December 2020, but if you need those inhospitable desert fumes in your life now, you can watch Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. Get to the Las Vegas sequence and pretend that’s Arrakis wind and sand whipping your face. (The surrounding movie’s pretty good, too.) Or just go straight to the well and watch the previous movie version of Dune, directed in 1984 by David Lynch. He’s essentially disowned the film, but it’s a well-meaning attempt, rendered mostly incomprehensible by the end if you’re not familiar with the book – exactly why Villeneuve’s Dune will be split into two movies. Dune has long stymied filmmakers (it was actually done decently on TV with the 2000 miniseries), and you’ll get the behind-the-scenes treatment of a noble but failed adaptation inside the wonderful documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune.
Dune towers within the space opera: A genre of sci-fi adventure where pulpy action and plot twists rule the stars, with frequent space and military battles, and streaks of sweeping romance. More space operas from movie history include The Chronicles of Riddick, The Last Starfighter, Flash Gordon, The Fifth Element (there’s a literal opera in this), Serenity, and Battle Beyond the Stars, featuring special effects by James Cameron.
We all know about the impact of Flash Gordon and The Hidden Fortress on George Lucas when thinking up his own space opera, Star Wars. Dune‘s influence fills out the rest. The Force is akin to Dune‘s own all-encompassing mystic system, and Tatooine is essentially a stand-in for Arrakis. So we’re including A New Hope here, even though you’ve already seen it. We hope.
John Carter and Stargate are more in the realm of space fantasies, but the action and arid settings match. Ditto the Earthly, apocalyptic Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. While there are obviously better movies in the series, it’s inside Thunderdome where Max is sculpted as a messianic figure, the type of imagery central to the Dune arc.
If space military operations are more your thing, engage with the sleek Ender’s Game, or violent propaganda satire Starship Troopers. And if you like what Dune dishes on ecological and environmental notions (with a potential side of giant sand critters), eat up the hippie-dippie Silent Running along with Hayao Miyazaki’s early masterpiece Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
On animation: The medium has long opened eyes to whole new worlds, like Disney’s underseen Treasure Planet. Or the trippy French classic Fantastic Planet. And even the full-length Daft Punk cosmic fantasy Interstella 5555, produced by Leiji Matsumoto, godfather of the animated space opera. His epic movies like Arcadia of My Youth and the two Galaxy Express films don’t have Tomatometers so we didn’t include them, but they’re currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
They’ve been a long time coming, but Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are reaching the climax with Fifty Shades Freed, opening wide this Friday. And if history is any indication (Grey and Darker are 25% and 10% respectively on the Tomatometer), Freed won’t be hitting the spot with critics, prompting this week’s gallery of the most Rotten movie trilogies ever.
Following revelations earlier in our exclusive Dinner and the Movies conversation with Hellboy II director Guillermo del Toro that he’d passed up chances to direct movies like Se7en, The Chronicles of Riddick and Sleepy Hollow, the visionary director shared with RT another list of projects that have never made it to the big screen that he’s had to abandon over the years.
Among the projects del Toro has, at some point, spent time preparing are adaptations of Christopher Fowler’s Spanky, Mark Frost’s List of Seven, H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness and Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo which, says del Toro he planned to turn into a “gothic Western.”
But one of the projects del Toro spent time on in 2003 was a Disney adaptation of Wind in the Willows that was to mix live action with CG animation, and the director explained why he had to leave the helm. “It was a beautiful book, and then I went to meet with the executives and they said, ‘Could you give Toad a skateboard and make him say, ‘radical dude’ things,’ and that’s when I said, ‘It’s been a pleasure…'”
One former project he is keen to return to is Mimic and del Toro also discussed his plans for a revival. “It’s not going to be the Director’s Cut to end all Director’s Cuts,” he told RT, “it’s just going to make a minute difference to a movie that is not a lost classic by any stretch of the imagination, but I do believe the screenplay is really good.”
Click on over to our Dinner and the Movies conversation with del Toro for more on these topics in the recently-released parts 7, 8 and 9, and to catch up on the earlier parts of our ongoing hour-long discussion.
Guillermo del Toro plans to start up an international animation studio when he’s finished work on The Hobbit film(s), he told RT during our exclusive Dinner and the Movies interview, which has started on the site today.
The director told us that before he got the offer to helm the Tolkien prequel, he was planning to set up two animation studios, one specialising in 3-D CGI in Los Angeles and another focusing on Anime in Japan that would do, “genre animated films, but in a different way.” He told us the offices are still being built and will be used as soon as he’s finished The Hobbit.
This venture isn’t the only project del Toro has had to drop to focus on other priorities, the Mexican moviemaker told us he has rejected dozens of projects down the years due to scheduling issues or problems with the script.
Some of these tantalising films-that-never-were – at least with del Toro – include Se7en (“great script but a very cynical script”), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Sleepy Hollow and The Chronicles of Riddick — all of which were offered to del Toro at some stage.
We’re rolling out our Dinner and the Movies interview with del Toro over the next four days, so click here to start watching.
As JoBlo reports (via Twohy’s official site), Twohy always envisioned the Riddick films as “at least a trilogy,” so this news isn’t exactly surprising — but for fans of the films, it’ll still be encouraging to know they may see Vin Diesel strap on the goggles again. As Twohy says on his site:
Yes, I got your emails demanding another movie; yes I keep bumping into guys at the airport and at conventions and I take your pleas to heart. All I can say now is “We’re talking about it.” The DVD numbers were really good — we know that, and some potential financiers know that. But if another movie surfaces, then it probably won’t be a Universal movie and probably will be an independent movie… But that’s okay… Maybe it’s time to go back to our roots — as we go on to the UnderVerse.
Pitch Black, while not a classic by any definition, made good use of its limited budget, so maybe this “return to roots” could be a good thing for the series. Or not. Are people seriously demanding another Riddick movie?
In this week’s Ketchup, Jason Bourne will discover his true identity in 2007 in "The Bourne Ultimatum," we’ve finally got some non-pirated pictures of the third "Pirates of the Caribbean," and we get to marvel at the all-new "300" trailer.
Also, the next Bond film gets a storyline, and we get a "The Hills Have Eyes 2" trailer. Read on for more.
This Week’s Most Popular News:
Bourne’s Identity Revealed in "Ultimatum"
We thought "The Bourne Identity" was revealed at the end of the first film, but his "Supremacy" confirmed there was more to the story. Now, Matt Damon promises that the third film, "The Bourne Ultimatum" will finally find Jason Bourne knowing his whole story.
First Official "Pirates 3" Pics!
We’ve seen a few sketchy-looking on-set snapshots from the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" flick, but not this pretty. Click on in to enjoy a few crisp-looking photos from "At Worlds End."
Trailer Bulletin: The Amazing-Looking "300"
Between RT and the other sites I write for, I’ve pretty much run out of adjectives for how awesome Zack Snyder’s "300" looks. And by "looks" I mean … wow. The visual fireworks are pretty darn dazzling. And now there’s even more in an all-new theatrical trailer.
Story Set for Next Bond Flick?
There’s already been a good deal of conjecture and gossip thrown around regarding the NEXT James Bond movie, and here’s the latest: Apparently the next 007 adventure will be based on an Ian Fleming story called "Risico" — but that story’s already been used for an earlier Bond flick!
Teaser Bulletin: The Horrible "Hills Have Eyes 2"
…and I mean "horrible" as in "scary," not as in "a terrible movie" — because obviously I haven’t seen the thing yet. Anyway, an early (and kinda creepy) teaser trailer for "The Hills Have Eyes 2" has hit the ‘net, so come check it out!
In Other News:
Moviegoers grabbed their remote controls and flocked to the multiplexes this weekend to see Adam Sandler‘s latest comedy Click which became the comedian’s eighth number one hit thanks to its $40M opening, according to estimates.
Sony launched the PG-13 film in 3,749 theaters and averaged a healthy $10,670 per location. It was the second best opening of the year for a live-action comedy after the $40.2M bow of Scary Movie 4 in April. With this latest film, the funnyman has become the only actor to score $30M+ openings in each of the last five years proving what a consistent box office draw he continues to be. A-listers like Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Jim Carrey cannot claim the same feat.
In Sandler’s latest vehicle, he plays a man who gets a magical remote control that gives him power over all others around him. Frank Coraci, who directed the comedian’s 1998 hits The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy, helmed this latest pic which co-starred Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, and David Hasselhoff. Sony’s $83M production played to a broad audience. According to studio research, 51% of the crowd was female and 50% were under 25. Sandler has always been a strong draw with young guys, but with his role as a husband and father in Click, the actor was able to appeal evenly across the board to all four quadrants.
Reviews were poor, as expected, but audiences didn’t seem to care. Click is a marketing-driven film and starpower and concept sold it to those looking for some harmless summer laughs. The opening was right in the middle of the $37-43M range that five of Sandler’s previous comedies have debuted in. With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, Click could very well go on to become the star’s seventh $100M blockbuster.
Following its two-week run in the top spot, the animated comedy Cars slipped to second place but displayed solid staying power. The G-rated film eased only 33% to an estimated $22.5M pushing the 17-day total to $155.9M. The decline was smaller than the third-weekend drops experienced by the most recent Disney/Pixar films The Incredibles (47% in November 2004) and Finding Nemo (39% in June 2003). Despite opening weaker, Cars is now holding up better and continues to benefit from word-of-mouth from family audiences. After 17 days of release, Cars is running 12% behind the pace of Incredibles and 19% behind Nemo. Competition for kids from Superman and Pirates in the weeks ahead will be fierce, but the racing toon could still drive to a final domestic haul of over $240M making it bigger than any other film released up to this point in the year.
After a stellar opening, the Jack Black comedy Nacho Libre stumbled 57% and placed third with an estimated $12.1M. Paramount has grossed a solid $52.7M in ten days and is heading for the $70-80M range. Nacho cost $35M to produce.
Tyrese Gibson flexed some muscle with his new actioner Waist Deep which opened impressively in fourth with an estimated $9.5M from just 1,004 theaters. The Focus Features release averaged a sizzling $9,414 per location. Reviews for the kidnapping drama were mostly negative, but audiences responded to the starpower and the action.
Slamming on the brakes, the action sequel The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift suffered the worst decline in the top ten crashing 62% to an estimated $9.2M in its sophomore frame. With $42.6M in its tank, Universal’s $75M franchise pic has been performing exactly like another of the studio’s recent June action sequels – 2004’s Vin Diesel pic The Chronicles of Riddick. That film opened to a similar $24.3M, dropped 61% in the second frame, and generated a ten-day cume of $42.5M before finishing with $57.6M. Tokyo Drift should cross the finish line near the $60M mark as well.
The franchise’s last installment, 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, performed in the same way tumbling 63% in its second lap so Drift’s huge drop was expected. Overseas, the latest street racing pic remained at number one in the United Kingdom for a second straight weekend and pushed its international gross to $15.6M from a dozen countries. The studio projected number one openings this weekend in Indonesia, Finland, Portugal, Romania, and Trinidad. Japan, expected to be a big market for Tokyo Drift, does not open until September 18.
The Keanu Reeves–Sandra Bullock romance The Lake House enjoyed a reasonably good second date grossing an estimated $8.3M dropping 39%. After ten days, the Warner Bros. drama has taken in $29.2M and looks headed for the neighborhood of $60M. Lake bowed at number two in the U.K. this weekend with an estimated $1.5M from 343 locations. The film’s international roll-out will be spread out over the coming months.
Holding up well in seventh place was another film targeting adult women, The Break-Up starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. The Universal release grossed an estimated $6.1M, off only 38%, for a $103.7M cume. The unromantic comedy became the seventh film of 2006 to cross the $100M mark. Eight films had joined the century club at this point last year.
Fox’s kidpic sequel Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties dropped just 35% in its second weekend and collected an estimated $4.8M. With a mere $16M in ten days, the PG-rated film looks to reach a disappointing $30M domestically or less than half of the $75.4M of its 2004 predecessor.
The year’s two highest-grossing films rounded out the top ten. Fox’s X-Men: The Last Stand took in an estimated $4.4M, down 44%, pushing its cume to $224.1M. The Da Vinci Code grossed an estimated $4M, off only 24%, giving Sony $205.5M to date. Collectively, the top five summer films have grossed $861.6M trailing last summer’s corresponding blockbusters by 5% at this same point in the season.
Two summer hits fell from the top ten over the weekend. Paramount’s release of the DreamWorks animated film Over the Hedge grabbed an estimated $2.7M this weekend. Off 37%, the PG-rated toon boosted its total to $144.5M and should reach around $152M by the end of its run. Fox’s remake of The Omen has had no legs and tumbled another 63% to an estimated $2.1M this weekend. The $25M film has scared up a solid $52M and looks to end with about $55M.
Paramount Vantage kept expanding its global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth which widened from 403 to 514 theaters this weekend and grossed an estimated $1.9M. Averaging a decent $3,762 per site, the Al Gore pic has upped its sum to $9.5M and counting. Further expansions are planned for the coming weeks.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
When filmmaker David Twohy ("Pitch Black," "The Chronicles of Riddick") pitched his "Wrecking Crew" concept to some Paramount executives, he was hoping to write and direct the project. But Variety reports that the producers thought "Crew," with just a little tinkering, would work perfectly as a screenplay for "The Brazilian Job" – which, of course, would be the sequel to Paramount’s "Italian Job" remake.
One small glitch for Mr. Twohy is that the studio is already committed to director F. Gary Gray ("Be Cool" and the first "Job") on this project, so it’s just screenplay duty for Twohy this time around. But it’s not like the writer/director is suffering from a shortage of assignments: He also has "The Would-Be Warrior" cooking with Nickelodeon Films, and the sci-fi action flick "The Break" with Columbia Pictures.
From the pages of Variety comes news of the timely drama "Notes From a Scandal," which is based on Zoe Heller’s novel "What Was She Thinking?" Cate Blanchett ("Veronica Guerin") will star as a schoolteacher who (very unwisely) decides to have a love affair with…
…one of her 15-year-old students. Judi Dench ("The Chronicles of Riddick") will play an older, wiser mentor who tries to help out when the you-know-what hits the fan. Screenwriter Patrick Marber ("Closer") handled the adaptation duties, and Fox Searchlight plans to start production this August.