And if that definitive adaptation is ever going to get made, it's going to take some time longer now. The Playlist reports that 'Taken' director Pierre Morel has left the project after nearly a year of development. The French filmmaker had already replaced Peter Berg, director of 'Hancock,' 'The Kingdom' and 'Friday Night Lights,' who left 'Dune' to make the very expensive, very strange sounding adaptation of the board game 'Battleship.' You know you're in a tight spot when your first director leaves to make a movie based on a toy and the second leaves a potential big budget franchise after he's publicly taken an egg in the face with the critical and financially disastrous 'From Paris With Love.'
But just how tight is this tight spot? Tight enough that Paramount is prepared to cut its losses, put the project into turnaround and sell the rights to another studio if things aren't moving forward by this Spring.
Although 'Dune' is a famously dense and often difficult read (it even has its own glossary of phrases and names!), films like the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy prove that even the strangest, geekiest literature can become a crowd pleasing event movie. At its core, 'Dune' is very much a traditional Hollywood movie. It's a classic tale of boy is in power, boy falls from power, boy learns to ride giant desert worm and boy regains power. The mythology surrounding it may feel slightly impenetrable on the page, but so does much of Tolkien.
The best thing Paramount can do is give 'Dune' to a real visionary and let him run with it. In terms of ambition and scale, this is a science fiction 'Lawrence of Arabia' waiting to happen, a chance for an interesting filmmaker to make a big movie that doesn't sacrifice intelligence and depth. Although Berg probably had a great 'Dune' film in him, it's difficult to imagine Morel at the helm of of a 'Dune' adaptation done right. Maybe these delays are good thing. Maybe they'll force Paramount to take a risk and try something that's not dull and terrible and boring, which would certainly be a break from the Hollywood norm.
And if not, we wait a few more years while another studio tries to tackle the project and everyone just reads the book again. Someday, a new 'Dune' movie will happen. It's just a matter of when. The spice must flow, after all.