Details surrounding the 1984 promotional tour for David Lynch’s Dune emerge as fans wait for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two.
After the release of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two got pushed to March 15, 2024, fans of Frank Herbert’s spice-infused sci-fi series have been eager for more details about the upcoming sequel. While I don’t have any fresh information about the sequel’s release, fascinating factoids about David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation are making the rounds. In a lengthy article published by WIRED, the outlet returns to 1984 for the turbulent Dune promotional tour and all the hostile vibes that come with it.
With a significant rollout planned for Lynch’s version, Dune booked 1,700 screens worldwide and four gala premieres in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Miami, and London. According to WIRED, the December 4 DC premiere resulted in Dune author Frank Herbert and David Lynch getting invited to the White House for dinner with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. The presidential couple told Herbert they enjoyed the film, though records show Dune was screened for Reagan on December 22 at Camp David. Awkward!
Near the release of Lynch’s Dune, whispers of negativity began spiraling out of preview screenings. However, Lynch was ready to defend the project, saying he’d heard plenty of praise for the sci-fi spectacle. Speaking with the Los Angeles Times promptly after the premiere, Lynch said, “I don’t know how the rumors got started, but they aren’t based on truth … that the picture was in trouble, it wasn’t going over well and that we had a bad preview. Well, I was at the Los Angeles preview, and the feeling I got was that we had a successful preview. The feeling I got at the premiere was an awful lot better. Dune is a film built for a big screen with big sound, and they had that at the Kennedy Center.”
While building buzz for your hard work is essential to success at the box office, Lynch later revealed in Greg Olsen’s Beautiful Dark that Dune took its toll and that, in reality, he felt like he was “dying inside” throughout portions of the film’s production. According to Lynch, he shot more footage than necessary, equaling enough material for a four-hour TV miniseries. “The principals of the cast and the director, David Lynch, have all been optioned for two more films,” Herbert told the Philadelphia Daily News in 1984. “We’re already plotting the screenplay of the sequel.”
Those plans were for Lynch’s Dune Messiah. Lynch says he wanted to shoot Dune II and Dune III back-to-back despite fans being lukewarm on the material. “Dune Messiah is a very short book, and a lot of people don’t like it, but in there are some really nifty ideas. I’m real excited about that, and I think it could make a really good film,” said Lynch.
Many of Dune’s cast and crew members recall their premiere experiences, with memories dredging many emotions and reactions.
Ian Woolf (Directors Guild of America [DGA] Trainee) remembers, “I went to the premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington with my wife and a friend of ours. After the two hours and 20 minutes, you could hear a pin drop in the theater. It’s like, “What the fuck was this?” It wasn’t good.”
Eric Swenson (Visual Effects, Motion Control) recalls, “I don’t remember everybody being bummed or super excited. It was like, “Hey, that’s pretty cool.” Everybody hates their own stuff, and thinks they could do it better. I’m looking at Rambaldi’s creatures and the forced perspective miniatures. Some of those sets, like the Emperor’s palace, were still left over when I got there, and to see them up on the big screen was phenomenal.”
Meanwhile, CRAIG CAMPOBASSO (Production Office Assistant) thinks he’s got a good handle on why press members reacted bitterly to the film’s release, saying, “They didn’t do any press screenings. That’s where all that anger came from the press. People started writing bad stuff because of that.”
WIRED‘s report includes more quotes from people closely tied to Lynch’s Dune, with each person presenting another fascinating angle of the larger picture. The reactions include Frederick Elmes’ (Additional Unit Cinematographer) take, who suggests Dune became a victim of editing interference, and more.
What’s your opinion of David Lynch’s Dune? Do you prefer the 1984 original or Villeneuve’s operatic adaptation? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/dune-1984-promotional-tour/