The Spice

Does Dune 3 Have a 2026 Release Date? Not So Fast

Let’s not count our Shai-huluds before they’ve wormsigned.

Warner Bros.

Since Paul Atreides told Stilgar to send his enemies to paradise, Dune fans — old and new — have wondered if and when a sequel to Dune: Part Two will happen. Will we get to see Paul’s full transition into a depressed dictator? What about the undead return of one of his best friends? And did Anya Taylor-Joy’s surprise appearance as Alia Atreides mean that Dune 3 was 100 percent inevitable?

For those holding out hope that Dune 3 would happen sooner rather than later, there’s an encouraging development. According to Variety, director Denis Villeneuve will direct an “event film,” for Legendary, to be released in 2026. Faster than a Fremen warrior can bust out a crysknife, many online assumed this all meant that Villeneuve was 100 percent confirmed to direct the much-discussed film version of Dune Messiah. But that’s not really the case at all. Dune 3 is not yet confirmed for 2026, and has not, officially, entered pre-production at all.

Dune 3 might, indeed be the “Denis Villeneuve Event Film” in 2026, but as of this writing, there are several factors that suggest it won’t be. First, Villeneuve has signed on to direct an adaptation of Annie Jacobsen’s Nuclear War: A Scenario. That project is also with Legendary, and so, considering how soon 2026 is, it seems like that film would be the next one Villeneuve makes, before Dune 3.

Denis Villeneuve with the cast of Dune: Part Two.

Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Villeneuve has also said, on multiple occasions, that he didn’t want to rush into Dune 3. He’s said he needs “a break” from the Dune universe, and made a point that, “The danger in Hollywood is that people get excited and only think about release dates, not quality.” So, with all of that in mind, the odds are already against the 2026 Denis Villeneuve movie being Dune 3.

The other big piece of this puzzle is the shooting schedules of the massive cast. Dune 3 will not only see the return of Paul (Timothée Chalamet), Chani (Zendaya), Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), Gurney (Josh Brolin), Stilgar (Javier Bardem), and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), but it will also need to properly introduce Alia (Anya Taylor-Joy) and bring back the Ghola clone of Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa). Getting all of these people together in time for a 2026 release date means that the pre-production of Dune 3 would need to start right now.

Because Dune 3 will adapt the second novel, Dune Messiah, the tone of this movie will also be even darker than Dune: Part Two. And, because Anya Taylor-Joy is a bit older than Alia’s age in the novel, it’s possible that Dune 3 will even dip into elements in the third book, Children of Dune. It’s a lot of moving parts to think about, and even the most impatient Dune fan might agree that everyone should give Villeneuve the time and space to make the movie at his own pace.

Will Chani and Paul have the same fate in Dune 3 as they did in the books?

Legendary/Warner Bros

Dune: Part Two also changed the nature of Paul and Chani’s relationship, and ended with a poignant moment of Chani riding a sandworm defiantly. This moment suggests Dune 3 won’t be a straightforward adaptation of Dune Messiah, but instead, a continuation of what seems to be a new emerging canon of Dune. From a writing point of view, this is very delicate stuff, which makes Dune 3 easily the riskiest of these new films to date.

With a complicated script, a huge cast, and very big expectations, why would anyone want this movie to come out sooner than it should? Dune 3 could be released in 10 years and still be amazing. In fact, because Paul is more than a decade older in the second book, maybe that’s exactly what should happen. Instead of Dune 3 hitting theaters in 2026, maybe we should all hope for 2036 and get the best movie possible.

Dune: Part Two is streaming on Max.

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