Denis Villeneuve currently developing Dune: Messiah; will tackle Nuclear War adaptation afterwards

Denis Villeneuve
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Director Denis Villeneuve is currently developing Dune: Messiah, but it’s also being reported that he’ll adapt the non-fiction book Nuclear War: A Scenario after that.

We heard last month that a sequel to this year’s sci-fi opus Dune: Part Two was greenlit and in the process of being written at Legendary Entertainment. While Dune: Messiah bubbles on the stove, though, it’s being reported that director Denis Villeneuve has another project in the works at Legendary – an adaptation of the book Nuclear War: A Scenario.

A New York Times best seller by Annie Jacobsen, Nuclear War is described by its publisher Penguin as a “edge-of-your-seat thriller” with the author basing her what-if vision of armageddon on interviews with military experts.

Deadline reports that Legendary has bought the rights to the novel, and that Villeneuve is expected to make Nuclear War after he’s finished Dune: Messiah.

It’s another large-scale project for Villeneuve, given that he’s also talked in the past about making his own Cleopatra epic, as well as an adaptation of Arthur C Clarke’s mind-expanding sci-fi novel, Rendezvous With Rama. (The latter is being written by screenwriter Eric Roth, who we spoke to in March on the Film Stories podcast.)

Read more: Dune: Part Two review | Bleak, beautiful blockbuster filmmaking

Villeneuve has even been rumoured to be in Eon’s sights for the next James Bond movie, though as we’ve seen with Christopher Nolan, these reports of high-profile directors making 007 films tend to be wide of the mark.

The lingering question is: which film will Villeneuve actually make next? As recently as February, the director has said that he wanted to “settle down a little bit” after making the first two Dune movies back-to-back.

“The screenplay’s in progress,” Villeneuve said to Vanity Fair, referring to Dune: Messiah. “I’m very happy where it’s going, but it’s not finished, and I don’t know how healthy it’ll be to go straight to Messiah right away. It would be healthy to do something in between.”

Given the acclaim, bags of cash and talks of Oscar nominations being heaped at Dune: Part Two’s feet, though, it’s possible that Legendary has managed to talk Villeneuve into making Messiah next. Or maybe he’ll do something else. When we know more, we’ll let you know.

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