‘Dune Messiah’: Everything We Know About the Third Movie So Far

Dune Messiah Everything We Know About the Third Movie So Far
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Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ is one of the most important sci-fi masterpieces in the history of the genre. The book’s heavily detailed world-building and philosophical messages inspired plenty of adaptations, but when it comes to live-action and video games. Among the best adaptations in recent times are Villeneuve’s movie which adapted the first book in the franchise. Despite several notable changes in his adaptation, both movies so far have seen critical acclaim. ‘Dune: Part Two’ was released only a few days ago and it’s already one of the highest-grossing films in 2024, the movie even surpassing ‘Oppenheimer’ when it comes to advanced ticket sales.

The second movie in the franchise was rated better than the first, both the audience and the critics noted improvements in tone and pacing and a better approach to transferring the book to the screen when it comes to conflict on such a large scale. But, despite the initial success of the second movie, fans are left wondering whether the third movie will happen in the first place, well, here’s what we know so far.

Editor’s Note: Read at your own risk since the article may contain spoilers for ‘Dune: Part Two’ if you are not familiar with the source material.

The third ‘Dune’ movie is definitely happening

Director Denis Villeneuve has already expressed interest in creating a third film based on ‘Dune Messiah,’ back when the first movie was released and then once again prior to the release of ‘Dune: Part Two,’ but it would be heavily dependent on the success of the recently released movie.

Plans for the film were repeated by screenwriter Eric Roth, and Hans Zimmer had already begun composing music for it. Now that we’ve seen the success of the second movie, we can confirm that it’s happening and it’s going to be epic. Villeneuve aims for the third film to conclude a trilogy and is carefully developing the script to ensure quality over rushing for release dates, which is something that he has issues with in general in Hollywood.

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What could ‘Dune Messiah’ be about?

We’ve already mentioned that the first two films in the ‘Dune’ franchise dealt with only the first book in the series, the second book called ‘Dune Messiah’ hasn’t been touched yet by Denis Villeneuve but it remains one of the most tense works in science fiction. So what can we expect?

The last half an hour of ‘Dune: Part Two’ is vital for understanding the third movie. For starters, we could see Paul finally getting to terms with his status as Kwisatz Haderach, and after drinking the Water of Life he is ready to take on the difficult burden of putting humanity on the Golden Path. He goes into conflict with Vladimir Harkonnen and kills him right in front of Emperor Shaddam IV of House Corrino. Following his uncle’s death, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen accepts to be Shaddam’s champion in a duel for the empire, and Paul foreseeing his victory clashes against him, killing him in single combat.

Paul is now in fact the emperor and proclaims the Holy War, the moment that will lead to millions in casualties but will eventually result in humanity being saved from ultimate doom and extinction. But before that happens, we need to witness some more of Paul’s journey which was continued in ‘Dune Messiah.’

‘Messiah’ takes place 12 years after the events of the first book (second movie) and Paul has been an emperor for quite some time now and is leading the most powerful empire in the history of humanity following a decade of bloody conquest. Despite being assured through his visions that he is on the right path, his status as Kwisatz Haderach gave rise to numerous militant sects across the galaxy that have cost millions of casualties. Paul struggles with this fact despite knowing that it’s ultimately the best path that humanity can take.

Despite being powerful, there are some tensions in the court as Paul needs to have an heir as soon as possible. Chani, who was quite embittered at the end of the second movie is Paul’s concubine despite him being married to Princess Irulan and is the only one that Paul will consider to carry his heir. They fail to have children, however. Why? Because Princess Irulan keeps poisoning Chani’s food, being jealous herself, and wanting to be the one to give birth to Paul’s heirs. Paul is aware of this but knows that meddling in this can result in humanity straying from the golden path. Chani, becoming more and more desperate starts eating Fremen fertility food which cuts off Irulan from the opportunities to poison her, but the damage has been done and Chani is severely weak despite concevieing a baby with Paul.

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Further, Edric gives Paul a gift: a clone of Duncan Idaho, hoping it’ll make Paul doubt himself. Paul’s acceptance makes the Fremen turn against him and Eric himself is a part of a large-scale conspiracy that aims to kill Paul.

Otheym, a former Fedaykin, reveals a Fremen conspiracy against Paul. He gives Paul Bijaz, a Tleilaxu servant who can remember everything. Paul reluctantly accepts, suspecting Tleilaxu involvement. During the attack, a Tleilaxu atomic weapon blinds Paul, but he pretends he can still see, shocking the Fremen and solidifying his godlike status. His prophetic abilities allow him to continue ruling the world despite his blindness.

Bijaz implants special commands into Duncan (Hayt) and the ghula is supposed to kill Paul under the right circumstances and those circumstances come to fruition when Chani dies after giving birth to twins. Following a difficult pregnancy which was marked by the consumption of spice, Chani’s pregnancy was shortened from 9 months to only six and the twins were also “pre-born,” just like Alia. Paul also never expected a son only daughter and decided to name his successor Leto II after his father.

Scytale offers to bring back Chani as a ghola, but Paul refuses, fearing Tleilaxu manipulation. The Face Dancer threatens Paul’s children and demands Paul’s empire. Despite being blind, Paul outwits Scytale and kills him with a dagger guided by his son’s vision. Later, Bijaz makes the same offer and is killed by Duncan. Paul, now both physically and prophetically blind, embraces the Fremen tradition and heads into the desert alone, securing loyalty for his children’s rule.

Paul appoints his sister, Alia, as regent for his twins, Leto and Ghanima. Alia orders the execution of those involved in the plot against Paul, despite his wish for no harm to come to them. Princess Irulan is spared and vows to serve as a mentor to Paul’s children. Duncan sees that Paul and Chani’s deaths have ironically led to victory over their enemies: the Spacing Guild and the Bene Tleilax are discredited and dismissed, Irulan’s defection weakens the Bene Gesserit, and Paul’s desertion ensures Fremen support for his family. This is pretty much it. We can’t be certain that the third movie will follow all these plot points, as already significant alterations have been made (notably skipping the two-year time skip) but it will most certainly lead to the same conclusion.

‘Dune Messiah’ expected cast

The cast of the third movie will likely remain consistent with the second movie as many of the characters are expected to reprise their roles. Timothée Chalamet is expected to return as Paul Atreides, albeit an older one. Zendaya will most certainly reprise her role as Chani although it’s important to note that her role will be less oriented toward action, especially if she is expected to be pregnant over the course of the third movie and is expected to appear sick and weak.

Florence Pugh will return as Princess Irulan, but in a bigger role, as she will presumably plot against Chani. Léa Seydoux is expected to return as Margot Fenring now that we know that she is carrying a Harkonnen female heir.

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Anya Taylor-Jo appeared in only a few shots of the movie but is expected to have a bigger role in the third movie, fully grown up alongside her brother as Alia Atreides. Rebecca Ferguson will return to portray Lady Jessica, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, Javier Bardem as Stilgar, and Charlotte Rampling will appear as Gaius Helen Mohiam. Those are only estimates, however.

Don’t expect ‘Dune Messiah’ to be released anytime soon

Despite Denis Villeneuve discussing the possibility of the third movie for a few years now and the script being actively worked on, a release for ‘Dune Messiah’ is not on the near horizon. Villeneuve has consistently emphasized his unwillingness to rush the production, asserting that masterpieces take time to perfect. So far, there has been no estimated time of arrival for the movie.

However, new details have emerged that might ignite speculation about the timeline. Deadline has reported that the “Untitled Event Film” Warner Bros had scheduled for December 2026 is now billed as a “Denis Villeneuve Event Film.” It appears that both Warner Bros and Legendary are reserving this date with the anticipation of concluding the spectacular ‘Dune’ trilogy with this third installment.

While this update is promising, several challenges remain. The script is still under refinement, and the casting process is ongoing. Moreover, Villeneuve has expressed a desire for some time to pass in order to authentically age the characters, suggesting that the project is still in its developmental stages and far from shooting.

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