‘Dune’: Why the Director of the Original Has ‘Zero Interest’ in the Remake

A remake of Dune is in the works. Dune is based on the popular and influential 1965 novel of the same name by Frank Herbert. The book was previously adapted into a film by director David Lynch.

Lynch’s version of the story is one of the biggest cult classics of the 1980s. When the remake was announced, many fans wondered what Lynch would think of it. Surprisingly, Lynch has no intention of seeing the film.

David Lynch sitting in a yellow chair | Ernesto Ruscio/FilmMagic

The tragic history of David Lynch’s ‘Dune’

Here’s a little background. Herbert’s novel was one of the most acclaimed science fiction books ever written, up there with Frankenstein and Nineteen Eighty-Four. When Lynch’s film was released, it drew some divided reactions.

Some fans felt it was brilliantly surreal. Others thought it was an incomprehensible mess. The latter fans were upset to see one of their favorite books gutted onscreen.

On the commercial end of things, Dune fared even worse. Box Office Mojo reports the film cost $40 million to make. It earned slightly less than $31 million. This is hardly the box office take anyone would have wanted, especially considering the film’s producer, Dino De Laurentiis,  reportedly wanted Dune to become the next Star Wars.

Why David Lynch feels the film was a ‘heartache’

Sometimes directors will defend their commercially or critically unpopular films. Lynch doesn’t defend Dune, which may be his least acclaimed film. In fact, he called the movie a “heartache.”

Lynch actually had some fun making the film. He said he had a wonderful time working with the film’s crew in Mexico City. However, he said the process of making the film was “maybe 75% a nightmare.” Despite this, Lynch had no control over the final cut of the film, which caused him lots of pain.

Lynch’s cut of the film was around three hours long. De Laurentiis didn’t like the idea of releasing a film of such length. De Laurentiis reshot the film and edited it down. Predictably, Lynch was dissatisfied with this version of the movie.

He felt he sold out by making it. He also felt the film killed him twice. First, it killed him when it was edited against his well. Later, it killed him when it disappointed at the box office.

Would David Lynch like to see the new ‘Dune?’

Denis Villeneuve wearing a striped suit | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

So Lynch doesn’t like the original film adaptation of the story. He certainly has good reason to be upset about it. However, would he like to see another filmmaker take a crack at Herbert’s classic novel? Not at all.

Lynch commented “I have zero interest in Dune. Because it was a heartache for me. It was a failure and I didn’t have final cut.”

The director of the upcoming film, Denis Villeneuve , has a more mixed appraisal of Lynch’s Dune. “I saw his adaptation, I was impressed, but it was not what I had dreamed of, so I’m trying to make the adaptation of my dreams. It will not have any link with the David Lynch movie. I’m going back to the book, and going to the images that came out when I read it.”

Also see: ‘Star Wars’: The Secret Symbolism in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’