The Road to Dune (and how we got precisely nowhere)

Morel has wandered off into the desert (in a curious twist he was finally lured away by a Hasbro boardgame adaptation just like Peter Berg), Paramount is out of the picture and “Right now, Dune has no commitments or attachments” (Deadline New York).

After more than three years Paramount has finally given up on Dune.  The film’s Executive Producer, also responsible for the miniseries and is the Herbert estate’s go-to guy when it comes to films, Richard P. Rubinstein “said that Paramount’s exit came down to dollars” . This isn’t surprising, the film would have reportedly cost $175M – no small sum, and Paramount were understandably cautious in light of David Lynch’s spectacular failure in 1984. And they seem to have taken an active interest in how their investment will be spent – endless script revisions and even apparently vetoing the appointment of Neil Marshall (The Descent) – producer’s  favourite replacement director after Peter Berg left.

So now freedom – Paramount’s option for the rights has lapsed and they have decided against renewing. Rubinstein and Herberts now have a script which they think is good, and they will pass it around the production companies and try to secure funding. Dune is a well known brand and there will be proposals – in fact on the Official Dune Facebook page Byron Merritt gleefully suggests that “big production companies are banging on the door.” The question is – how many of those big production companies are just after the brand name, and how many are interested in either the existing Chase Plamer/Pierre Morell script or the proper literary adaptation that Dune deserves? Quickly the list gets shorter.

But the Herbert’s wouldn’t just surrender the Dune brand to the highest bidder would they? Well, the film in it’s current incarnation seems to be slowly going nowhere, the new books by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson are selling less well with each publication – Dune as a franchise needs another shot-in-the-arm like the one it got from the Dune miniseries. And the Estate has never really put a premium on integrity – Young Paul “This will be your first time offworld” Atreides joined an intergalactic circus in their last offering, so you might imagine that they might even go for an easy option and just get some money into the bank and word onto the street… But at the same time they do like to keep the property on a tight leash. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson were both listed as co-producers on the movie – a strictly ceremonial position, but a potential sticking point for already wary investors concerned with potential interference.

It’s unlikely that they will leave a cash cow as big as Dune untapped for long, although what comes from it is anyone’s guess. Low budget films are able to take risks, where as a behemoth like Dune requires conventional Hollywood funding and that means it must succeed. The script they have is most likely an action heavy stripped down version – Pierre Morel directed Taken, before him we had Peter Berg and his “muscular… violent” interpretation, and it will be a single film. It’s also worth remembering that the meeting that started this whole journey was Brian and Kevin pitching their own Dune works as a movie. So with real Dune flagging is it time again to concentrate on the big battle, young-adult heroism and cartoon treachery of the truly awful (but popcorn friendly) House Atreides?

We will see.

The film of Dune is the result of a paradox — product of an industry that pretends to creativity and shies away from risks. Creation takes risks and that’s the movie industry’s dilemma.

–Frank Herbert; Introduction to Eye

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Dune Links 2011

This is the forth version of this listing, the only changes this time are to remove a couple of inactive sites.

As always, let me know if there’s owt to be added or deleted – Thanks! –DF


Dedicated Dune forums and discussion boards.

Jacurutu: The Cast Out – The de-facto home of the Orthodox Herbertarian Jihad – A large active membership of well-informed fans of the Classic Dune series. Prequel fans are welcome, but will have to fight their ground and support their arguments with FH quotes!

Fed2k – Game centric Dune discussion and related resources such as FAQs, patches and more.

De Dune à Rakis – French Dune Forum.

Boards with Dune content

Worm’s SciFi Haven – General scifi with a good few Dune fans.

The (Almost) Undeleted – General scifi with a dedicated Dune section and an excellent bibliography of Frank Herbert secondary sources.

KJA Special Forces – A secret invitation only haven for fans of Kevin J. Anderson’s work.

Other (less active) Dune boards

Dune – The ‘official’ forum. Limited discussion.

Alt.Fan.Dune – Ancient but quiet. Home of the the Dune FAQ (always handy) and digging deep with unearth some gems from the likes of the late Dr. McNelly.

The Landsraad – Used to be an major site before it was migrated to Multiply.

Dune Blogs

Hairy Ticks of Dune – Unrelenting stream of bile focussed on the new Dune books and their author.

Kevin J. Anderson’s Blog – The author of the new Dune books.


Essential Reading

The Dune Encyclopedia at – Download Dr. Willis E. McNelly’s legendary Dune Encyclopedia (*in English) in a fully searchable PDF format. Well worth a look.

Frank Herbert – Tim O’Reilly’s 1977 biography of Frank Herbert. Now out-of-print, but still available online. This contains some incredible FH quotes and should be considered a must-read.

Other Sites

Frank Herbert: The Works – Bob R. Bogle’s indepth look at all things FH.)

Dune – Behind the Scenes – Heaps of info on David Lynch’s 1984 film as well as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ill fated attempt.

Collectors of Dune – Complete listings for everything Dune related that you might be able to find on eBay.

OrthodoxHerbertarian.ttf – The Dune Font – My own recreation of the font used on classic US Ace editions of the Dune Chronicles and other FH books.

Usul’s Homepage – Probably the original Dune site. It hasn’t been updated for years, but the pronunciation guide featuring Frank Herbert himself is reason enough to visit. Well worth a look.

The Dune Wiki – Semi-abandoned, but still alive Wikia wiki dedicated to Dune. Covers both Original Dune and Nu-dune as well as Dune in other media.

Cave of Birds – Excellent resource for quotes from most FH novels.

Dune Index – Book covers, collectors and more.

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The Art of Peter Berg’s Dune

A lone figure is dwarfed by a giant sandworm.
Jock has posted some of his Dune Concept Art on his site.

Back in November 2008, concept artist Jock mentioned in an interview that he was working on some art for a film called Dune directed by Peter Berg.  That particular project died a death with Berg’s departure and new director Pierre Morel’s decision to start again from the ground up. Jock is currently working on art for Berg’s forthcoming Battleship adaptation (yes) and Judge Dredd.

The pictures are not detailed working drawings, they are rough initial concepts and colour studies. Pictures like The Fremen Caves, Sardaukar Attack and even Spice Mining, suggest a mood for a scene – the art is a starting point without too many details to tie things up later on.

The Caladan image is more illustrative. Caladan is in many ways the opposite of Arrakis, so it makes sense that the opposite of a world without water, is a water-world – which is what we see here. My one criticism of this approach is that it Frank Herbert doesn’t mention the seas of Caladan in the first part of Dune, instead he speaks about “orchards” and “green farmlands”, this foreshadows the greening of the desert and the importance of plant-life.

Of the  twelve images, perhaps the most interesting ones are the six sandworm pictures. The approach is pretty unorthodox – they are not neat tube-shaped creatures, these are weird malformed beasts, with giant mandible-flippers to propel themselves through the sand.  The Newborn Worm does look like a cross between a chest-burster and a tumour and the others seem to carry on the Alien influence mixed with varying degrees of mutated random. The energy in these sketches is undeniable, however they all lack any real sense of scale and it’s difficult to imagine how they would translate into believable mile-long beasts.

But… the Long Shot (posted above) of an adult specimen makes me think that they might just have managed to pull it off. The weight and mass of these huge worms as a monsters is something that neither Lynch or the miniseries managed completely successfully.

The pictures are well worth a look and can be found on Jock’s site here:


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Dune Fan Fiction Contest

What with the current total lack of news about the new Dune film – here’s something to keep you entertained, organised by the one-and-only SandChigger from Hairy Ticks of Dune:

Hairy Ticks of Dune, in conjunction with Jacurutu, is proud to announce the Dune Fan Fiction Contest. This contest, as an unofficial, unauthorized and completely fan-organized event, is dedicated to honoring and exploring the legacy of Frank Herbert as represented by his Dune books and stories.

There are no prizes (unless you count immortality) but the contest is open to everyone and should provide some excellent reading material. The minimum length is just 500 words, which is sod all – so no excuses.

Full details can be found at

[Update: The winners have been announced and all the entries are available in 2010 Dune Fan Fiction Contest section at Jacurutu]

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Other Dune Fonts

I’ve gotten a few commenters, both on the Dune Font post and elsewhere asking about other Dune fonts – so I thought I’d make a bit of a reference post.

Dune (1984)


Top of the list is the font used for David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Dune. The font is an alternate version of Albertus . I’m not sure exactly what version it is but, the D is extended, the U has lost it’s stem and middle prong of the E is been different.

Nu-Dune (1999-2008)


The font used on the US editions of the nu-dune books by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson up until 2008 is Benguiat. It is stretched vertically, but other-wise unaltered.

Nu-Dune (2009-present)

Nu-Dune new

The font used on Nu-Dune books and re-prints post Winds of Dune, is a slightly modified version of Priori Serif – the N is simply the U rotated 180 degrees. Also on the US editions, the top-right serif on the U is removed.

Other Dune Fonts


These three fonts were created by Mike Lee and Josh Dixon in 1998. Fremen was based on John Quijada’s work in the Dune Encyclopedia, while Galach and Guild were both based on the text seen in the 1984 Dune movie.

[ UPDATE: Tommy of Escondido’s Alien Fonts page is back! I’m not sure if he’s re-uploaded it or if it’s somesort of automatic thing… but, you can find these three fonts at HERE ]

Hope that helps. :)

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Dune Smileys / Emoticons

I’ve been knocking these up in bits and bats for ages now. Please feel free to copy them, distribute them and use them on your forums. That’s what they’re for.

shield Shield
harvester Harvester
thoper-gunner Jihad ‘Thopter
backstab Landsraad “Diplomacy”
wormy2 Wormsign
burn2 Appreciation for
Kevin J. Anderson
rock Affection for
the dictahiker.



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London, Prague… Desert Planet?

May 2010 – On the Road to Montreal (Montreal Gazette)

Producers from Paramount Pictures were in town last week scouting locations for a remake of the sci-fi cult classic Dune; the producers are choosing between London, Prague and Montreal.

Producers Richard P. Rubinstein, Michael D. Messina and John Harrison were all involved in the 2000 Dune Miniseries and it’s 2003 sequel Children of Dune (Harrison actually wrote both and directed the first) – the miniseries were both filmed at Barrandov Studios in Prague, so could they be contemplating going back for a third time? Mostly, Prague is cheap… however it is also a long way away from Hollywood.

Montreal is more convenient travel-wise, and would also be fairly economical – a lot of US TV (Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, et al)  gets filmed in Canada for that reason, although most is centred around the Vancouver area. I can’t imagine Montreal has the infrastructure necessary to deal with a film of this size.

London is the least economically sound of the three. It is however a hub for big films – Harry Potter, Robin Hood, Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia were all filmed there last year.  It’s a world-beating base of operations that the other two can’t hope to compete with.

It’s also worth noting that while Prince of Persia was largely shot on sets and against green-screens in the UK, exteriors were also shot on location in the deserts Morocco. So don’t rule out the possibility of real sand just because the suggested locations don’t sound particularity Duney :P

With the budget as high as it is (reported to be $175 million) I reckon the smart money is on London, although with the previous (positive) experiences we can’t rule out Prague just yet.

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Chase Palmer to Write Dune Script

Feb 2010 – ‘Dune’ film finds a new writer (

Chase Palmer has been hired to work on the “Dune” script for director Pierre Morel at Paramount.

So who is this guy and what has he done? … Funny you should ask…

Shock and Awe from Miky Wolf on Vimeo.

NEO-NOIR from Chase Palmer on Vimeo.

Two very different offerings. We shall see… :)

(Thanks to Jacurutu’s inhuien for the Vimeo links!)

‘Dune’ film finds a new writer

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Morel: “I want to be very very true to the original novel.”

Feb 2010 – CS Video: Pierre Morel Arrives From Paris With Love (

Morel: Let me assure you, I’m not going to transform Dune into an action crazy movie. It’s not the point. I was a fan of the book from the start, I read the book when I was 14-15 maybe, and I’ve been reading it over and over and over. I’m a huge fan of the original material, I don’t want to ge away from that, I want to be very very true to the original novel.

It’s very challenging, it’s very complex. A lot of what is going on in the book is happening people’s minds, which is tough to show. It has lots of layers – politics and lots of interaction between different things… It’s a challenging thing, because it’s very rich, the original book is so rich. You cannot condense it to a 90 minute move, it has to like 2-and-a-half hours at least, and still there you have… it’s compact.

But we can make it. I think the technology now allows us to do much more than David could do in 84.

The Dune content begins around 14 minutes in. Again, encouraging.

“We’re starting from scratch,” says Morel. “Peter had an approach which was not mine at all, and we’re starting over again. I don’t think we’re going to keep any elements of the Peter Berg script. It was good, actually. It was interesting. It was just not our vision.
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Dune Director Morel: “It’s not about action… It’s just doing Dune.”

Feb 2010 – Dune’s New Messiah (IGN)

Morel: “We’re starting from scratch. Peter had an approach which was not mine at all, and we’re starting over again. I don’t think we’re going to keep any elements of the Peter Berg script. It was good, actually. It was interesting. It was just not our vision.

“Dune is such a huge, huge project… it’s challenging, it’s long-term — we’re only starting. We have to rewrite the script, we have to develop a whole universe. It’s going to be a long thing, so who knows. But I’m passionate about Dune so I’d love to do it next.”

[Regarding internal monologues] “That’s one of the challenges, yes – everything that is in Paul’s head, we’ll have to show it on screen and find the right approach to make it visually interesting. But I think the technology we have now allows us much more than we could do before, so we’ll see.”

The mention of the Internal monologue problem so early on is interesting… and encouraging.

Feb 2010 – From Paris with Love Director Pierre Morel Dishes on Dune (Tribeca Film)

Tribeca Film’s Jenni Miller: Do you plan to infuse it with some action?
Morel: “I don’t know. It’s all about—I’m a huge Dune fan, a reader, like for 30 years; I read it when I was a teenager. I’ve read it 10 times maybe, so I want to stay true to the book. Saying that, I also think that there’s a lot of scenes that are not described in the books—it’s just mentioned, like the bad guys attacking something—and it might make sense to include those in the movie, not just by mentioning it but showing them, and that would maybe [call for] some action scenes, yes. It’s not about action. It’s not the point. It’s not about [making] an action movie. It’s just doing Dune. It’s like a huge universe thing, and there’s such a fanbase, like guys who have been reading that forever—you can’t mess with that.”

(Emphasis mine). This is the single most encouraging thing I’ve posted here so far.  Against my better judgement… I like this director. :)

“We’re starting from scratch,” says Morel. “Peter had an approach which was not mine at all, and we’re starting over again. I don’t think we’re going to keep any elements of the Peter Berg script. It was good, actually. It was interesting. It was just not our vision.
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