“Dune” has not even touched down in theaters, but Denis Villeneuve is already looking ahead to the sequel. The filmmaker only agreed to direct an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal science-fiction novel for Legendary and Warner Bros. if they allowed him to split the book into two films. The studios agreed, and thus the upcoming “Dune” is the first in a planned two-film adaptation. Villeneuve told La Repubblica (translated by IGN) that Zendaya moves into the protagonist position in “Dune Part 2.” Timothée Chalamet is the protagonist of the first movie.

Chalamet stars in “Dune” as Paul Atreides, whose family gains possession of the desert planet Arrakis. The planet is the home to one of the universe’s most valuable resources, a drug called spice that gives users heightened abilities. Owning Arrakis means owning the spice trade, which makes Paul’s family a target of the villainous Harkonnen empire. Zendaya stars as Chani, a member of the Arrakis natives known as Fremen.

“When I did the casting for Chani’s character, I met a lot of actresses,” Villeneuve said. “Zendaya wanted to audition and today, after shooting the film and seeing what a wonderful actress she is, I’m sorry I auditioned her. It was just because I didn’t know her. However that day, she impressed me and when she left the studio I knew that Chani was her, the young desert tiger. I am honored to present two such explosive talents on screen [Chalamet and Zendaya] and I can’t wait to shoot the second part of ‘Dune’ to get them back together. Knowing that in the next chapter Zendaya will be the protagonist of the story.”

Later in the interview, Villeneuve said one of his main goals with “Dune” is for the movie to be believable. “I didn’t look for the exotic. I wanted everyday light, not perfect sunsets or sunrises,” the filmmaker said. “I wanted it to be accessible and understandable. Only then would viewers focus on the characters and their relationships without being distracted from the frames of the film. So I gave space to nature for what it is, without trying to control or modify it.”

“Dune” will world premiere September 3 out of competition at the Venice Film Festival. Warner Bros. is releasing the film in theaters and on HBO Max starting October 22.

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