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'Dune: Part 2', which was no guarantee, gets green light from studio

Some casual "Dune" fans may have been surprised to see the film end halfway through the story. There was no guarantee it would be finished.

“Dune” isn't done.

Legendary Entertainment announced Tuesday that Denis Villeneuve's “Dune," which adapts the first half of Frank Herbert's 1965 science-fiction epic, will get a sequel. Whether that would be the case had been an unanswered question throughout the film's release, which was delayed a year by the pandemic and ultimately debuted both in theaters and on HBO Max.

Warner Bros. Chairman Toby Emmerich said the studio will release “Dune: Part II” in October 2023. This time, the release is expected to be exclusively in theaters. Arguing that “Dune” belonged to the big screen, Villeneuve had protested passionately when Warner Bros. turned to hybrid releases for all of its 2021 films due to the pandemic.

But Villeneuve had lobbied hard for a sequel to “Dune,” which he has said is easily the best movie he’s made. It stars Timothee Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa and Zendaya. Some actors, like Zendaya, would potentially have a larger role in part two.

“This is only the beginning,” said Villeneuve in a statement.

Over the weekend, “Dune” launched with a solid $40.1 million in ticket sales in U.S. and Canada theaters. “Dune,” a 155-minute $165-million movie that introduces itself as “Part 1,” has thus far grossed $225 million worldwide.

Moviegoers gave "Dune" an A- CinemaScore and critics (83% on Rotten Tomatoes) have praised the operatic sweep and visual craft of Villeneuve's film. It fared particularly well on large-format screens, with IMAX accounting for about $9 million in ticket sales.

"Dune" is the second big-screen attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's epic, following David Lynch's much derided 1984 version. 

Travis Pittman contributed to this report.