'Dune: The Sisterhood' TV Series a Go at WarnerMedia

Dune Still - Photofest - H 2019
Courtesy of Photofest

WarnerMedia's forthcoming streaming service is poised to explore the world of Dune.

The yet-unnamed platform has handed out a straight-to-series order for Dune: The Sisterhood, a female-focused take on Frank Herbert's beloved novel. Denis Villeneuve, who wrote, produced and directed next year's new take on Dune, will helm the pilot. Jon Spaihts will pen the script for the TV series, which hails from Legendary Television. Villeneuve and Spaihts will executive produce alongside Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert for the Frank Herbert estate. Kevin J. Anderson will co-produce. Spaihts co-wrote the screenplay alongside Villeneuve.

Production on the Dune feature, which hails from Legendary Entertainment and is being distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, began filming in March. The film's cast includes Timothee Chalamet as the lead character, Paul Atreides, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgard, Charlotte Rampling, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac and David Dastmalchian. It is scheduled to premiere Nov. 20, 2020.

Herbert's Dune novel examines a future in which humanity has spread across the galaxy to thousands of worlds, all ruled by the Padishah Emperor, The Imperium. Dune: The Sisterhood takes place in the same universe and explores the future through the eyes of a mysterious order of women: the Bene Gesserit. Given abilities by their mastery of the body and the mind, the Bene Gesserit expertly weave through the feudal politics and intrigue of The Imperium, pursuing plans of their own that will ultimately lead them to the enigmatic planet Arrakis — known to its inhabitants as Dune.

"The Bene Gesserit have always been fascinating to me. Focusing a series around that powerful order of women seemed not only relevant and inspiring but a dynamic setting for the television series,” Villeneuve said.

The TV series and feature film are the tip of the iceberg for Legendary's larger plan for Dune, which also includes video games, digital content packages and comic book series. Legendary CEO Joshua Grode told The Hollywood Reporter in April that the plan was to split Dune across two movies, though only the first one has been scheduled. To date, there have been more than 20 books in the Dune series, the first six of them written by Herbert. His son, Brian, and Kevin J. Anderson, continued the series.

Next year's Dune is the second time the franchise has been adapted for the big screen. The first Dune, released in 1984, was written and directed by David Lynch and starred Kyle MacLachlan, Francesca Annis, Virginia Madsen, Sting and Patrick Stewart, among others. It was adapted by writers John Harrison and Herbert as a three-part TV series starring William Hurt in 2000 on Syfy. In 2003, Greg Yaitanes (Lost) directed a three-part Syfy follow-up from Harrison and Herbert that starred James McAvoy.

WarnerMedia's streaming service is due to launch in beta in late 2019. The platform will feature a roster of scripted originals as well as content from WarnerMedia-owned platforms including HBO, TBS, TNT, CNN and more. Dune is the third series in the works for the SVOD service, joining Paul Feig's comedic anthology Love Live, starring Anna Kendrick, and the Ansel Egort-led drama Tokyo Vice. A Gremlins animated TV series is also in the works.

Both Dune and Gremlins take advantage of the library content that is controlled by WarnerMedia. The model is similar to what Disney+ and CBS All Access are doing with their respective platforms. Both of those feature new series based on studio-owned IP including Star Wars and Marvel (Disney+) and Star Trek and The Twilight Zone (All Access).