Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s mind-bending novel Dune continues to take shape with the recruitment of Eric Roth as the film’s writer.
Villeneuve is riding on the crest of a wave following last year’s Arrival but could easily come crashing back down to earth with Dune, a book that previously got the better of David Lynch.
The Blue Velvet director famous turned down the chance to direct Return of the Jedi after being tapped up by Raffaella De Laurentiis to turn the book into a film back in the 1980s.
Lynch hadn’t even read the book when he signed on to direct and took around six months to work on the script, which went through five additional drafts and, when finished, ran for an eye-watering 135 pages.
It’s not difficult to see why he struggled: Dune is a famously dense novel, full of political intrigue and chronicling the complex conflict between a selection of noble families fighting for control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of a drug known as the Spice in the known universe.
Focusing on themes of ecology, power and technology, the book has long been regarded as unfilmable by fans and film critics alike and the addition of Roth as writer shouldn’t necessarily inspire feelings to the contrary.
Roth previously won an Oscar for his efforts as the screenwriter on Forrest Gump, a successful adaptation of a popular novel in itself.
Dune is a different kettle of fish though and if his track record in the world of sci-fi is anything to go by, fans should be worried.
Last time Roth worked on a big budget sci-fi movie, it went on to become one of the biggest flops in the history of cinema.
The film in question? Kevin Costner’s The Postman, a post-apocalyptic tale about a guy delivering letters across the US that raked in just $18 million off a budget of around $80 million.
It also scooped up five Razzies, including the award for worst screenplay.
Itself an adaptation of the book of the same name by David Brin, all of a sudden we’ve very worried about the new version of Dune.
In the meantime, Villeneuve has that Blade Runner sequel to contend with…