Dune the movie was initially set to star Salvador Dali, Orson Wells, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Alain Delon and Mick Jagger with art by H.R. Giger, a soundtrack from Pink Floyd and David Jodorowski as director.It would have been 14 hours long
“Early stalled attempts
In 1971, the production company Apjac International (APJ) (headed by Arthur P. Jacobs) optioned the rights to film Dune. As Jacobs was busy with other projects, such as the sequel to Planet of the Apes, Dune was delayed for another year. Jacobs’ first choice for director was David Lean, but he turned down the offer. Charles Jarrott was also considered to direct. Work was also under way on a script while the hunt for a director continued. Initially, the first treatment had been handled by Robert Greenhut, the producer who had lobbied Jacobs to make the movie in the first place, but subsequently Rospo Pallenberg was approached to write the script, with shooting scheduled to begin in 1974. However, Jacobs died in 1973.
In December 1974, a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon purchased the film rights from APJ. Alejandro Jodorowsky was set to direct. In 1975, Jodorowsky planned to film the story as a ten-hour feature, in collaboration with Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Alain Delon, Hervé Villechaize and Mick Jagger. It was at first proposed to score the film with original music by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Henry Cow and Magma; later on, the soundtrack was to be provided by Pink Floyd. Jodorowsky set up a pre-production unit in Paris consisting of Chris Foss, a British artist who designed covers for science fiction periodicals, Jean Giraud (Moebius), a French illustrator who created and also wrote and drew forMetal Hurlant magazine, and H. R. Giger. Moebius began designing creatures and characters for the film, while Foss was brought in to design the film’s space ships and hardware. Giger began designing the Harkonnen Castle based on Moebius’storyboards. Jodorowsky’s son Brontis Jodorowsky was to play Paul Atreides. Dan O’Bannon was to head the special effects department.Salvador Dalí was cast as the Emperor. Dalí later demanded to be paid $100,000 per hour; Jodorowsky agreed, but tailored Dalí’s part to be filmed in one hour, drafting plans for other scenes of the emperor to use a mechanical mannequin as substitute for Dalí. (According to Giger, Dalí was “”later invited to leave the film because of his pro-Franco statements””). Just as the storyboards, designs, and script were finished, the financial backing dried up. Frank Herbert travelled to Europe in 1976 to find that $2 million of the $9.5 million budget had already been spent in pre-production, and that Jodorowsky’s script would result in a 14-hour movie (“”It was the size of a phonebook””, Herbert later recalled). Jodorowsky took creative liberties with the source material, but Herbert said that he and Jodorowsky had an amicable relationship.
De Laurentiis’s stalled attempts
The rights for filming were sold once more, this time to Dino De Laurentiis. Although Jodorowsky was embittered by the experience, he stated that the Dune project changed his life. Dan O’Bannon entered a psychiatric hospital after the production failed, and worked on 13 scripts; his 13th became Alien. In 1978, De Laurentiis commissioned Herbert to write a new screenplay, but the script Herbert turned in was 175-pages long. One page of film script is roughly equal to one minute of screen time, so Herbert’s script would have taken nearly three-hours of screen time.De Laurentiis then hired director Ridley Scott in 1979, with Rudy Wurlitzer writing the screenplay and H. R. Giger retained from the Jodorowsky production. Scott intended to split the book into two movies. He worked on three drafts of the script, using The Battle of Algiers as a point of reference, before moving on to direct another science fiction film, Blade Runner (1982). As he recalls, the pre-production process was slow, and finishing the project would have been even more time-intensive: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. 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.
Lynch’s screenplay and direction
In 1981, the nine-year film rights were set to expire. De Laurentiis re-negotiated the rights from the author, adding to them the rights to the Dune sequels (written and unwritten). After seeing The Elephant Man, Raffaella De Laurentiis decided that David Lynch should direct the movie. Around that time Lynch received several other directing offers, including Return of the Jedi. He agreed to direct Dune and write the screenplay even though he had not read the book, known the story, or even been interested in science fiction. David Lynch worked on the script for six months with Eric Bergen and Christopher De Vore. The team yielded two drafts of the script before it split over creative differences. Lynch would subsequently work on five more drafts.On March 30, 1983, with the 135-page 6th draft of the script, Dune finally began shooting. It was shot entirely in Mexico. With a budget of over 40 million dollars, Dune required 80 sets built on 16 sound stages and a total crew of 1700. Many of the exterior shots were filmed in the Samalayuca Dunes in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.