Dune: Book to Screen Timeline

The following timeline is based on information from various sources, including: Sometimes these books don't agree on various dates and information, so this timeline seems to contradict itself occasionally.

December 1963
Frank Herbert's Dune World (Part 1 of 3) first appears in the Analog magazine, Volume 72, number 4.

Dune published in book format.

The Arthur P. Jacobs Attempt

31 March 1972
Joe Ford and Bob Greenhut complete a 38 page story treatment for Dune.

August 1972
APJAC Productions, Inc. secures the rights to Dune. David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia (1962)) was tipped to be the director, and Robert Bolt as the screenwriter, who had worked previously with David Lean on both Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago (1965). Robert Bolt was later replaced by writer Rospo Pallenberg. Filming was to take place in Göreme, Turkey

The filming was to begin in 1974, a 15 million dollar budget was set, and storyboards, set design and other preproduction work starting straight away.

11 September 1972
APJAC Productions send out a press release stating a release date of early 1974 for Dune.

1 November 1972
Rospo Pallenberg is hired to break down the book into a story treatment, and potentially a 1st draft script.

23 January 1973
Rospo Pallenberg completes his first 52 page story treatment of Dune.

7 February 1973
Initial figures for Dune places the budget at $7 million.

27 June 1973
Arthur P. Jacobs dies of a heart attack, and the Dune project is tied up in his estate. As it was his pet project, Apjac International may abandon it, but had until 1974 to decide, when the option would expire.

To learn more about this adaptation please read Retrospective – Arthur P. Jacobs' Unmade 'Dune' Movie.

The Alejandro Jodorowsky Attempt

Alejandro Jodorowsky Dune Poster.

December 1974
A French consortium, lead by Jean-Paul Gibon, who was the executive producer of Caméra One, purchased the movie rights for Dune from Arthur P. Jacobs estate.

Chilean born Alejandro Jodorowsky, director of cult classics such as El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973) is to direct the movie.

The budget is reported as being either $9.5 million or $20 million, depending on the source.

Alejandro Jodorowsky gathers what he describes as his "Seven Samurai" to help make the movie.

Michel Seydoux
Michel Seydoux, a millionaire Parisian, is to finance and produce the movie.

Jean 'Moebius' Giraud
Jean 'Moebius' Giraud created over 3,000 pieces of artwork, including storyboarding the entire script.

Chris Foss
Chris Foss designed the craft for the movie.

HR Giger
HR Giger was hired to design the Harkonnen homeworld, after Salvador Dali shows Alejandro Jodorowsky a HR Giger catalogue.

Dan O'Bannon
Dan O'Bannon moved to Paris for 6 months to work with Eurocitel, a French Special Effects company He returned to the USA around Christmas 1975 looking for VistaVision equipment when he received word that the Dune project had been cancelled. Alejandro Jodorowsky had originally wanted Douglas Trumbull, who had done the Special Effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Silent Running (1972), but didn't get along well with him.

Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd meet with Alejandro Jodorowsky in Abbey Road Studios, London and agreed to make almost all the music for Dune.

Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí agreed to spend an hour on the film set as the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV for a fee of $100,000.

As well as wanting to have Salvador Dalí as the Emperor, Alejandro Jodorowsky had other plans for the casting. Originally he wanted to play Leto Atreides himself, but changed his mind when he decided he'd be too busy with the rest of the movie. For Paul Atreides, he cast his son Brontis Jodorowsky. David Carradine was to play Liet Kynes, [or Leto Atreides] and Alejandro wanted Charlotte Rampling for Lady Jessica, but she turned the role down. Additional rumours place Orson Welles as the Baron Harkonnen and Gloria Swanson as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam.

To learn more about this adaptation please read How long would Jodorowsky's 'Dune' Movie have been?.

The Ridley Scott Attempt

October 1976
Frank Herbert visits Europe, the Alejandro Jodorowsky movie is in trouble. $2 million has already been spent, and Jodorowsky's script would result in a 14 hour movie. (In L'Ecran Fantastique #49 Jodorowsky says he'd signed a contract where he committed himself to providing a script for a three hour film and a series of six episodes for television.) Dino De Laurentiis wants to buy Dune movie rights.

Late 1976
Dino De Laurentiis buys the rights from the French consortium, as part of the deal Frank Herbert is appointed technical advisor and is commisioned to write a script.

Dino DeLaurentiis commissioned a script from Frank Herbert, but the resulting 175 page script was unsuitable.

February 1979
Dino De Laurentiis makes 2nd deal to option Dune - having let the first option lapse. Frank Herbert retained to write screenplay.

Dino De Laurentiis hires Ridley Scott, fresh from his success on Alien (1979) to direct Dune. Ridley Scott moves into Pinewood Studios, England to begin work. HR Giger was hired to work with the director on storyboards and illustrations. Ridley Scott also hired Rudolph Wurlitzer [writer of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)] to help him write the script. After 8 months they would have what they considered to be a workable draft.

27 September 1979
Ridley Scott has breakfast with Harlan Ellison, and asked him to write the Dune script, Harlan declined.

October/November 1979
Dino De Laurentiis, Frank Herbert and Ridley Scott meet in London to read Frank Herbert's script.

July 1980
Ridley Scott's production is in its early phases, based at Pinewood Studios, England. HR Giger to draw & storyboard, Rudolph Wurlitzer to script.

Late August 1980
Frank Herbert reads Rudolph Wurlitzer 1st draft, and is not happy. He believes the plot has been over simplified.

Late 1980
The 3rd draft of the Rudolph Wurlitzer's script contains an incestuous relationship between Paul and his mother Jessica, and Alia would be both Paul's daughter and sister! Ridley Scott leaves Dune to work on Blade Runner.

September 1980
The production is shut down, with the projected $50 million budget, and script difficulties proving too much.

In "Ridley Scott - The Making of his Movies" - by Paul M. Sammon, Ridley Scott gives his own reasons: "But after seven months I dropped out of Dune, by then Rudy Wurlitzer had come up with a first-draft script which I felt was a decent distillation of Frank Herbert's (book). But I also realised Dune was going to take a lot more work - at least two and a half years' worth. And I didn't have the heart to attack that because my [older] brother Frank unexpectedly died of cancer while I was prepping the De Laurentiis picture. Frankly, that freaked me out. So I went to Dino and told him the Dune script was his."

To learn more about this adaptation please read Retrospective – Ridley Scott's 'Dune' Movie Attempt.

The David Lynch Attempt

The 9 year option was up, Dino De Laurentiis renegotiated, buying rights for Dune and its sequels (both written and unwritten).

Having seen Elephant Man (1980), Dino and his daughter Raffaella decide David Lynch is the man to direct Dune. David Lynch goes to see Dino De Laurentiis.

May 1981
David Lynch moves into Universal for preproduction on Dune.

June 1981
David Lynch starts work on the script with Eric Bergren and Christopher De Vore. who had worked with him on the script of "Elephant Man". They worked six months, trying to develop a script for Dune. The best the team could come up with was two scripts, the first of which ended at the point where the family of Paul Atreides is defeated and he is cast out onto the desert of Arrakis. They then parted company due to differing ideas on the direction the script should take.
Download Dune - 1st Draft

29 May 1982
Second draft of the film script is completed by David Lynch.
Download Dune - 2nd Draft

21 August 1982
Fifth draft of the film script is completed by David Lynch.

27 August 1982
The Revised Fifth draft of the film script is completed by David Lynch.
Download Dune - 5th Draft (Revised)

September 1982
Production move to Mexico City.

09 December 1982
A 135 page script (6th draft) was accepted as a final shooting script for Dune.
Download Dune - 6th Draft

30 March 1983
Principal photography starts on Dune.

09 September 1983
Dune principal photography ends with the filming of scene 7.

09 December 1983
The 7th draft for Dune completed. This draft represents alterations made while filming, such as new scenes added and changes to existing scenes. It also removes and reorders scenes to create a basis for the editing of the film.
Download Dune - 7th Draft

27 January 1984
Wrap party, Mexico City, Mexico.

31 January 1984
Dune - 2nd Unit and effect work ends.

30 November 1984
Dune was screened for the reviewers of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter at 14:30 in projection room #1 at Universal.

3 December 1984
World Premiere of Dune at the Eisenhower Theatre, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.

12 December 1984
At 20:30, Dune is screened for various reviewers in the Alfred Hitchcock Theater in the Universal City Studios lot.

14 December 1984
Dune released worldwide.