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Legendary’s ‘Dune” franchise is steadily growing. Denis Villeneuve is returning to helm “Dune: Part Two,” the second half of the first Frank Herbert novel, with tentative plans to potentially adapt the second book “Dune Messiah” to round out a trilogy. Meanwhile, Legendary and HBO Max have teamed up to explore the “Dune” mythology with a prequel series, “Dune: The Sisterhood.” After multiple hiccups and delays there seems to be a solid motion on that streaming series as it started film.
Production on “The Sisterhood” has started in Budapest, Hungary, where the films were previously shot after director Johan Renck (“Chernobyl”) took to Instagram (see post below) to announce they’ve started lensing. However, with the good news, there is also some bad news with the prequel’s co-showrunner exiting. The report, via Deadline, is that Diane Ademu-John, the original creator and showrunner of the series, is exciting the project. Initially, Scott Z. Burns (“The Informant”) was brought on to co-showrun the series, but then he departed. Then Alison Schapker was brought on to co-showrun the series with Ademu-John, and while no reason was given for her departure, Schapker is staying on to run the show herself. Losing your showrunner as your show begins production and swapping them out with the person brought in to help, well, it sounds like there’s a kind of bigger story there, but we’ll let you speculate on the behind-the-scenes politics of it all.
Jon Spaihts (“Prometheus”) was one of the original writers on the project, but he departed earlier on when called up to handle the second film’s screenplay.
They’ve assembled a cast that includes Emily Watson, Shirley Henderson, Travis Fimmel, Indira Varma, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Faoileann Cunningham, Aoife Hinds, and Chloe Lea.
“Dune: The Sisterhood” is confirmed to take place 1,000 years before the events that are currently being explored in the feature films and is expected to focus on the Harkonnen Sisters (ancestors of the villains of “Dune” movies), played by Watson and Henderson, as they establish the fabled sect known as the Bene Gesserit. The all-female group uses special abilities and a breeding program among the great galactic houses to bring a super being into existence.
“Dune: The Sisterhood” also has an impressive (or expensive) exec-producing team that includes Villeneuve, Spaihts, the aforementioned Scott Z. Burns, Matthew King, John Cameron, Cait Collins, and Brian Herbert. Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson. Brian Hebert and Anderson have been behind the string of spinoff/prequel “Dune” novels that the show is taking inspiration from after the death of Frank Herbert.
Given the show is only just starting to shoot we likely won’t be getting a glimpse of footage until next year and remains to be seen when the show will debut on HBO Max. We shouldn’t be terribly shocked if more shows end up being placed into development, given how much source material there is to mine beyond the Paul Atreides saga.