Dune: Part II has commenced shooting this week and will return to the Liwa Desert for over a month later this year, taking advantage of the 30 percent cash rebate on productions offered by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission.
But the emirate won't be the only MENA location used for the second installment of the movie adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel. Following the first novel by Herbert, the sequel promises to "explore the mythic journey of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) as he unites with Chani (Zendaya, who was briefly introduced in Part I) and the Fremen while on a warpath of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family.
The Dune novel by Herbert is set on the desert planet Arrakis, and is the story of a boy, Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for... When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.
Denis Villeneuve is returning at the helm of the follow-up, which will shoot in Budapest, Abu Dhabi, Jordan, and Northern Italy. The first three locations served as filming spots for the previous film, while Italy marks a new location for the franchise, which could open the door to a brand new setting for the sequel.
Cinematographer Greig Fraser is also returning to shoot the film, marking his second collaboration with Villeneuve. In the first Dune, the Wadi Rum in Jordan served as the newly inherited planet of the Atreides', Arrakis. Budapest was the setting for some major action set pieces in the first film, specifically that of the Arrakeen invasion. The deserts where the Fremen resided were filmed in Abu Dhabi.
A notable absence in locales is the city of Stadlandet in Norway, which was used to create Caladan, the home planet of Paul Atreides and his father, Duke Leto Atreides (played by Oscar Isaac). To fans and Dune experts, this makes sense to the story and follows through from both the book's the story and Part I. It remains unclear how the Italian city of Altivole, in the Veneto region, would be used, though it probably will stand in for some planet yet to be explored.
The sequel also features new characters such as the Emperor (played by Christopher Walken) and Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) entering the fold, which leads us to think that there are undoubtedly more worlds to explore.
Returning cast members include Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, and Stephen McKinley Henderson. And in addition to Walken and Pugh -- steady now all Elvis fans! -- newcomers to the film include Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha, as well as Léa Seydoux as Lady Margot and Souheila Yacoub as Shishakli.
The first installment of Dune has come under fire in the Region for lack of Arab actors filling the roles, even though the story clearly takes place in a MENA influenced universe, with some Arabic words even sprinkled here and there. It doesn't look as if the situation has been rectified in Part II, and that feels like a missed opportunity.
Dune: Part II is set to hit theaters on November 17, 2023.