Denis Villeneuve on Why David Lynch’s Dune Failed on Every Front

Denis Villeneuve on Why David Lynch’s Dune Failed on Every Front
Image credit: Universal Pictures, Legion-Media, Warner Bros. Pictures

The new Dune director shares his thoughts about the weakness of the previous adaptation.


  • Denis Villeneuve considers some essential things, which could depict the Dune world and its culture, “were missing” in David Lynch’s version of Dune.
  • Back in 1984, it failed in theaters and Frank Herbert’s novels had remained unadapted successfully before Villeneuve rebuilt the franchise.

The Dune fever has swept the whole world these days, with fans arguing whether Denis Villenueve managed to convey the essential meanings of the original Frank Herbert’s novels. Many of them also draw parallels between the new movie adaptation and David Lynch’ Dune, which flopped hard in 1984 but, nevertheless, has become cult.

Thu Dune books were long considered unadaptable, taken the unsuccessful 1970’s attempts of the famous filmmakers Ridley Scott and Alejandro Jodorowsky into account, followed by Lynch’s Dune bombing hard at the theaters, as it earned only $30.9 million with a budget about $40-42 million.

The director himself, who was then appreciated for his previous masterpieces The Elephant Man and Eraserhead, tried to distance from the final version of the movie, claiming producers in its failure at the box office.

Denis Villeneuve on Why David Lynch’s Dune Failed on Every Front - image 1

Dune 1984 has become an example of the cringiest movie adaptations and now seems to be even more outdated than other pretentious sci-fi projects of that period, including the Star Wars franchise. But still, it remained the only Dune movie for a long time.

Denis Villeneuve, the director and the screenwriter of the new Dune movies, the second of which has recently made a great entry to theaters, and a huge fan of Frank Herbert’s books, recently stated that, despite he was “very mesmerized and impressed” by Lynch’s approach towards the adaptation, some moments left him deeply upset about it.

“I was destabilized by some of his [David Lynch’s] choices,” Villeneuve confessed in a recent Fresh Air podcast by NPR, “I didn’t feel that he captured some of the essence of specifically the Fremen culture — I felt that there were some things that were missing.”

The filmmaker meant the old movie focuses mostly on the events of the original, trying to put them in on movie, and forgets about detailing and the whole atmosphere of Herbert’s invented universe, which won Villeneuve’s heart since childhood.

He also shared a touching memory, revealing that after the release of Lynch’s Dune he was thinking that someone definitely had to make a reboot of the franchise and do it better this time.

Denis Villeneuve on Why David Lynch’s Dune Failed on Every Front - image 2

Luckily, his hopes and aspirations have seen light in his own movie version of the epic saga and there is no doubt that the new Dune movies are thoroughly detailed with greater love to the wholesomeness of the book source, dividing its events in parts.

Watch Dune: Part Two in theaters now to dive into the fan’s vision of the Dune’s world.

Source: NPR