It’s time to don your stillsuit and put in your eerily blue colored contacts, because we’re headed back to Arrakis for another romp in the desert. After releasing an initial preview back in May, today Warner Bros. put out a new, longer look at Dune: Part Two, the eagerly anticipated sci-fi flick based on Frank Herbert’s beloved novel. In an April interview with Vanity Fair, director Denis Villeneuve described Part Two as “a war epic action movie,” and this trailer certainly doesn’t contradict that description.
Where the first film left off, Timothée Chalamet’s protagonist Paul Atreides saw his family betrayed and their powerful house in disarray at the hands of Stellan Skarsgård’s Vladimir Harkonnen and House Harkonnen. This second Dune movie opens where the previous one closed, with Paul joining the Fremen on a journey of revenge, and culminates with him leading a massive army into battle, telling them, “Long live the fighters!”
The sequel features several new cast members, including Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan, a Bene Gesserit and ally to Paul. Austin Butler also joins the fray as Vladimier’s nephew Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. (The role was played by Sting in the 1984 Dune movie, so perhaps Butler’s experience playing another music legend will prove helpful.) Other key additions include Christopher Walken, Souheila Yacoub, Tim Blake Nelson, and Lèa Seydoux, playing a character Villeneuve described as “a secret agent.” Butler’s character gets perhaps the most stunning scene in the trailer, a brutal fight in a coliseum rendered entirely in greyscale.
“Austin Butler brought to the screen something that would be a cross between a psychotic, sociopath serial killer and Mick Jagger,” Villeneuve told Vanity Fair of his dynamic new villain.
The trailer appears to make up for a key criticism of the first film: not enough Zendaya. The Euphoria star’s limited screen time in Dune rubbed some the wrong way, but Villeneuve promised her character Chani would have a far greater impact in the second film. The character’s warrior abilities seem like they will finally be on display here as she traverses the desert planet with Paul and fights for the Fremen, including in that climactic battle. The budding romance between Chani and Paul is crucial to the movie’s plot, and Zendaya told Vanity Fair about the unique challenge of crafting believable young love in a world steeped in complex sci-fi lore.
“It was funny trying to figure out in this futuristic space talk, like, how do they flirt?” she said. “What does that look like for a space warrior and the young duke of a planet? How do they show that they like each other? What does that even sound like? We were definitely trying to navigate that, which was funny because all of us were stumped. I think it’s just as foreign to us as it probably is to the characters.”
Besides Chalamet and Zendaya, Part Two also sees the return of Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Paul’s mother, Josh Brolin as artillery expert Gurney Halleck, Dave Bautista as the ferocious Glossu Rabban, and Javier Bardem as Fremen tribe leader Stilgar. Dune: Part Two brings back Greig Fraser as cinematographer, and the film has the gorgeous, eerie aesthetic that has defined previous Villeneuve blockbusters like Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. Shot in the deserts of Abu Dhabi and Jordan, the Vanity Fair piece noted that much of the movie was filmed during golden hour to capture the kind of orange and yellow color palette that suits Arrakis. (Dune’s marketing team needs to put together an Instagram filter ASAP.)
One intriguing subplot that has nothing to do with House Atreides, big ass sandworms, or vengeance is how the movie will perform financially. Part One was released simultaneously in theaters and via HBO Max, managing a solid box office run of more than $400 million, but nearly three-quarters of that came from international sales. Part Two will be released only in theaters. This second film cost a reported $122 million, a markedly lower budget than the standard DC or Marvel blockbuster, and approximately $40 million less than Dune, though the movie hardly looks cheap in this trailer.
Dune: Part Two will be released on November 3, and though Villeneuve has stressed that it is a continuation, not a sequel, the film has some big shoes to fill. Dune was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning six including Best Original Score and Best Cinematography.