When Denis Villeneuve first began to consider taking on a big-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert's 1965 sci-fi novel "Dune," he knew a single film wouldn't cut it.
The same vast scope and richly detailed world-building that had long drawn filmmakers to Herbert's sweeping novel — the story of the battle for dominion over a desert planet and the rise of a reluctant young messiah named Paul Atreides — was also what made the book so difficult, if not impossible, to tackle in a conventional two-hour-and-change film.
Just ask David Lynch, who disowned his ill-fated 1984 adaptation of Herbert's novel after it flopped at the box office. Or Alejandro Jodorowsky, who in the 1970s spent years and millions of dollars in preproduction costs developing his own wildly ambitious "Dune" fantasia, only to have his heart broken when it fizzled into nothing (a doomed effort chronicled in the 2013 documentary "Jodorowsky's Dune.")
From the start, Villeneuve had made clear to the film's backers, Legendary Entertainment, that he would only take on "Dune" if he could break the book into two films — and with visions of a franchise dancing in their heads, Legendary quickly agreed.
Now, with the long-awaited first installment in theaters and on HBO Max, Villeneuve and his cast and crew — along with millions of hardcore "Dune" fans — are waiting anxiously for the official go-ahead so they can actually finish the story.
"We're all calling each other all the time: 'Have you heard anything?'" the film's production designer, Patrice Vermette, says. "They can't leave us hanging."
In a recent interview with Deadline, WarnerMedia strongly hinted that a sequel will be forthcoming: "Will we have a sequel to 'Dune'? If you watch the movie you see how it ends. I think you pretty much know the answer to that."
But where might the story go in part two? For those who haven't read the book — and for those who have — Villeneuve and his team shared some hints with the Los Angeles Times.
(Warning: plot spoilers ahead for both the original book and the new film version of "Dune.")
"Dune: Part One" ends essentially at the midway point of Herbert's book, with the villainous Harkonnens having retaken Arrakis by force and Paul (Timothee Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), having escaped and been taken in by the desert-dwelling Fremen.