Because Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” ends on a cliffhanger, WarnerMedia CEO says “you pretty much know the answer” to whether it’s getting a sequel.
Warner Bros. has yet to officially announce “Dune Part 2,” but the company’s CEO Ann Sarnoff is making it sound like the next installment in Denis Villenueve’s intended two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel is all but confirmed. Speaking to Deadline, Sarnoff pointed fans to the fact that Villenueve’s first “Dune” film ends on a cliffhanger when discussing the possibility of a second “Dune” movie. Villeneuve only agreed to direct “Dune” for Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment if he could split Herbert’s novel into two films. It was Villeneuve’s original plan to shoot both installments back-to-back, but studio logistics got in the way.
“Will we have a sequel to ‘Dune?’ If you watch the movie you see how it ends,” Sarnoff said when asked about “Dune Part 2” happening. “I think you pretty much know the answer to that.”
Villeneuve is also working with WarnerMedia on a “Dune”-focused television series for HBO Max centered around the group of women characters known as the Bene Gesserit. Villeneuve has been saying in multiple interviews in the lead up to the U.S. release of “Dune” that he is optimistic he’ll get the chance to make “Part 2.”
“The first thing was to prove that there was a beautiful, popular movie that can exist, and I think that I proved that — everybody at Warner Bros and Legendary, they are 100 percent behind the project,” the director told Total Film in August. “They feel that it would need a really bad outcome at the box office to not have a ‘Dune Part 2,’ because they love the movie. They are proud of the movie, so they want the movie to move forward. And they still did half of it. So, you know, I’m very optimistic.”
“Dune” is opening in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day, which may cut into the film’s potential box office earnings. WarnerMedia executives have stressed that even if “Dune” underperforms theatrically, a strong streaming reception could do the trick in ensuring “Part 2” gets made. As WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said, “[Sequel] decisions are well informed and based on audience response, not just based on box office.”
Such is the case with the future of “The Sopranos” franchise. Prequel film “The Many Saints of Newark” bombed at the box office with a $4.6 million opening, but it stirred up enough buzz on HBO Max that Sarnoff said more “Sopranos” content is now being discussed with creator David Chase.
“We’re thrilled with the results of ‘Many Saints,’” Sarnoff told Deadline. “Yes, the box office was not quite as big, but back again to the demographics of who’s going to theaters. On the other hand, you see ‘Sopranos’ pop into the top 10 of the most viewed series on the service. It’s given it an entirely new life. We’re talking to David about a new series ‘Sopranos’-related on HBO Max. [The movie] literally lifted the ‘Sopranos’ franchise in a new way, so you can’t measure it in and of itself in the box office.”
Chase has already gone on record saying any new “Sopranos” story would be set in between the events of the prequel film and the original series. “Many Saints” ended with many fans anticipating some kind of standalone young Tony Soprano project, and star Michael Gandolfini has already gone on record saying he’d love to come back to the role and play Tony in his 20s.
“I think if there’s an interesting part after this movie, before the show, that we can explore something about Tony that hasn’t been explored, in his youth, in his 20s,” Gandolfini told Uproxx. “After that, we’re getting a little too old.”
Sarnoff was more brief when the discussion turned to “The Matrix” franchise. “The Matrix Resurrections,” the fourth installment of the franchise, opens in theaters and HBO Max on December 22. Again, the future of the franchise post-“Resurrections” will not hinge entirely on box office returns. As Sarnoff put it: “Anytime Lana [Wachowski] wants to make a movie, we’re all in.”