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Pajiba Exclusive: An Update on the Dune Remake

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | October 27, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | October 27, 2009 |

There have been a number of rumors flying around the last two years about a remake of Frank Herbert’s Dune, first tackled relatively unsuccessfully by David Lynch back in 1984. And thanks to our inside source, The Hollywood Cog, we can officially set the record straight.

First of all, a Dune remake is in the works, and has been since 2007. This we already know. We also know that Josh Zetumer, who is also writing the next Bourne flick, was hired to pen the script last summer, and turned in his epic 175-page draft earlier this year. As recently as May, Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom) was loosely attached to direct the project — he even spoke about the project with MTV last month, but was mum on casting Robert Pattinson as the lead.

However, we now know that Berg did speak with Pattinson in May about the project, though there was nothing official. But the big news is, Peter Berg completely dropped the project a few weeks ago — his Film 44 production company backed out, and now Paramount is scrambling to find a new director.

The search, however, has run into two issues: 1) they’re looking for a director who can put the movie together for under $175 million, which sounds manageable, but they don’t want anything resembling the crap effects of the ‘84 film, and 2) they want a director who already has a preexisting passion for the novel and is enthusiastic about the project. Right now, Paramount is shopping the script to two directors: They like Neill Blompkamp (District 9), who has the right vision, but the frontrunner, at the moment, is Neil Marshall (The Descent), who was sent the script early this month. However, despite the enthusiasm of producer, Kevin Misher (Public Enemies), the studio is somewhat tepid on Marshall, uncertain about handing over a $175 million film with franchise potential to a somewhat unknown director whose only hit was the modestly successful The Descent.

All of which is to say: Dune is still being developed; there is a script; but as of now, there is no director, and the only connection that Pattinson had to the project was via discussion with a director, Berg, who is no longer on the project. Fortunately, Paramount — in Marshall and Blompkamp — is at least looking at directors who could do the Herbert source material justice, and God knows, it’d be hard to mess this thing up worse than Lynch did.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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