Dune 2 director Denis Villeneuve defends controversial detail about new movie

Dune 2 director Denis Villeneuve has waded into an increasingly controversial movie debate with the release of his long-awaited movie sequel.

The filmmaker, whose credits include Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, has been busy promoting his new film, which is receiving acclaim from critics, including The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey, who awarded the film five stars out of five.

During a recent interview, he was challenged about the runtime of the Dune sequel, which stars Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, and was finally released on 1 March after being delayed due to the Hollywood strikes in 2023.

In the last 10 years, films have gotten longer and longer, with many regularly wondering on social media whether these increased lengths are necessary.

Recent films to have been at the centre of such debate include Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, which last for three hours and three hours, 30 minutes, respectively.

One person who thinks this argument is silly is Villeneuve, whose Dune 2 has a runtime of two hours, 46 minutes.

When asked about the runtime in a new interview, Villeneuve said that the film’s distributor, Warner Bros Pictures, didn’t tell him to cut the film down, saying “it was almost the opposite”.

But Villeneuve is undeterred by complaints that blockbusters these days are too long, telling The Times: “I trust the audience”.

Defending the new film’s runtime, he said that the story, adapted from Frank Herbert’s novel, is “too dense” to tell in a more expedient manner.

“This was the only way I could succeed,”he said, adding: “Also, think of Oppenheimer. It is a three-hour, rated-R movie about nuclear physics that is mostly talking. But the public was young – that was the movie of the year by far for my kids.”

Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet in ‘Dune: Part 2’ (Warner Bros Pictures)
Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet in ‘Dune: Part 2’ (Warner Bros Pictures)

Villeneuve argued that, while many people might be frustrated at lengthier runtimes, young people today actually want films to be longer.

He said: “There is a trend. The youth love to watch long movies because if they pay, they want to see something substantial. They are craving meaningful content.”

It was found in 2023 that the average length of the top 10 highest-grossing movies in the US and Canada was two hours and 23 minutes – almost 30 minutes more than the average recorded in 2020.

Addressing whether there will be a third Dune film, Villeneuve said: “There is absolutely a desire to have a third one, but I don’t want to rush it.

He said that when it comes to making another sequel, titled Dune: Messiah, he will take his time as “the danger in Hollywood is that people get excited and only think about release dates, not quality”.

Dune: Part 2 is in cinemas now.