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Peter Berg is Off of Dune; Paramount Wants Neill Blomkamp

by
October 28, 2009
Source: Pajiba

Dune

As we've known for at least a year, Paramount has been trying to develop another take on Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi classic Dune, originally attaching The Kingdom director Peter Berg. Since then, we've heard off and on from Berg, including this most recent update from September where he revealed that it would be a PG-13 "massive epic," which was a step in the right direction. Movie blog Pajiba is now reporting that Berg has left the project and "his Film 44 production company backed out." Now Paramount is scrambling to find a new director." According to them, District 9's Neill Blomkamp is one of only two alternatives.

The first question is why this blog would be reporting on Dune. Well, apparently there was a rumor in the summer that Robert Pattinson (ugh) was being considered for one of the lead roles, and they confirmed in their update that this stemmed from a conversation Berg had with Pattinson. But now that Berg is off the project, Pattinson isn't involved anymore (thankfully). We also know that newcomer Joshua Zetumer was hired the write the screenplay sometime last year. Pajiba adds that Zetumer turned in an "epic 175-page draft earlier this year." Perfect length for good Dune adaptation, but a little long for the studio, of course.

So now Paramount is searching for a director who can put the movie together for under $175 million, which shouldn't be too hard considering that is actually a pretty big budget, and someone who has "a preexisting passion for the novel and is enthusiastic about the project." According to Pajiba, the top choices are: Neil Marshall (of The Descent and Doomsday) and Neill Blomkamp (of District 9). We just reported a few days ago that Blomkamp's next original sci-fi project had been given the greenlight, so it's unlikely he'll jump on-board unless Paramount wants to wait a few years until he's done with that (which they may).

As for Marshall, while producer Kevin Misher is enthusiastic about him, the studio is not. And this time I completely agree with the studio - they're right in being skeptical of Neil Marshall. His only real hit so far was The Descent and Doomsday was a huge piece of trash (that left me worried). I wouldn't trust this guy unless I knew he was the right guy. In fact, I much rather prefer Blomkamp, and if I were Paramount, I'd happily wait until he's ready to come on-board just because I know his take on Dune would be pretty damn incredible to see. Of course, that may be asking for too much. Who would you want to direct Dune?

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  • jake the snake
    I don't think they can get Blomkamp now. Too bad though. Would have been a great idea.
  • Blomkamp would be great. I just hope they don't rush to get into production with an unworthy director. Also, I've read all FRANK Herbert's Dune books -- love 'em. Read the first by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson and it was horrible. I think most people will agree that the subsequent books have been horrible but exist because Dune's a cash cow.
  • Korm
    Neill Blomkamp would do it right!
  • cineprog
    why not get Micheal bay or Stephen Speilberg or even peter jackson, Ducan Jones, give a director who you would not think of doing upmarket SC FI epic like DUNE.
  • Are you frikkin kidding me?! Michael Bay would turn it into Transformers and Spielberg would turn it into AI. That is, crap.
  • Guy
    Who should direct it? Alejandro Jodorowsky should.
  • dave13
    #6 might be onto something... Blomkamp however could also probably do a good job, assuming the script is as well done as the rumors tell.
  • Janny
    if we are throwing out director names then how about Ridley Scott or James Cameron. It would be interesting what Blomkamp would do with it, but the thing that has me worried is that they are going for PG-13.... come on it should be R
  • James
    If I can't have Blomkamp, I think I'd take Cuarón instead.
  • xerxex
    Although I'm sad to see Berg go, I think he is a talented director, I wouldn't mind seeing Blomkamp. But maybe we should have a new director shine in the spot light?
  • Greedo
    Jon Waters gets my vote.
  • FilmMaker2003
    I personally would like to see the Dune books turned into an anime. I think that if they were a series they could be fleshed out and follow the books more closely and in a really cool way.
  • Dude
    Duncan Jones! Yeah.
  • Dave Lister, JMC
    This is great news. I wouldn't let Peter Berg direct traffic, on a dead end street, never mind having him try his hand at something as tricky as 'Dune'. He was obviously, on the wrong track, if he wanted to cast the Pattinson kid. As long as we're dreaming... how 'bout Ridley Scott as director?
  • Johnny Walker
    Ditto that. Get Ridley. He loves jumping onto moving projects.
  • zelda fitzgerald
    peter jackson for sure
  • Candy Castle
    Darren Aronofsky, Neil Blomkamp or Alfonso Cuaron. Woudn't go for Berg or Marshall.
  • harm
    I think Marshall is a great director, anyone see Dog Soldiers? But DUNE? No I think thats a bit much for him. He needs to reprove himself to us. Hopefully Centurion will do that.
  • Marshall is terrific. He's had two hits and one disappointment. Dog Soldiers (his first film) was a hit in Europe. His next film, Centurion, looks great in this month's Empire, and if it's good enough for him to make the short list for Predators and for Sam Raimi to sign him up for his first Hollywood feature, I'd say Doomsday was a blip. On top of that, he always seems like a really nice guy in interviews, so I'd be happy if he gets this gig.
  • xerxex
    why the hate for Berg?
  • Hattori Hanzo
    I'd rather Blomkamp replace Emmerich on The Foundation Trilogy.
  • LuckyLoser
    Blomkamp may be too busy with his other movies!
  • JimD
    I'd rather Blomkamp stay away from this and stick to his intended projects. Why get strung up in some big money studio production when you can do something original with more artistic direction.
  • Sabes
    Neill Blomkamp sounds good to me. That would make me a bit more excited about this, but I'm still very skeptical. I want my favorite book done justice, lol.
  • shadow
    Just let Neill Blomcamp keep doing origional Sci-fi, which he seems good at. We have no indication that he is effective at adapting someone else's work. Let a director that wants to do it direct it, a great Dune movie will only emerge out a labor of love, not studio tinkering.
  • shadow
    Also, Blomcamp has said he never wants to work on big-budget productions because the movie stops being his. So I think we can rule him out on doing this.
  • Ben
    You always trash Neil Marshall and its make me wonder... have you seen Dog Soldiers? If you had then you wouldn't trash him just because Doomsday wasn't a fantastic movie. The way I see it, Marshall has done 3 movies and 2 of them have been outstanding. He has more experience than Blomkamp, although District 9 was a great movie, he hasn't quite proved himself yet. Just look at Richard Kelley, 1 great movie and everybody loved him, thought he was amazing but he has kind died hasn't he (even if the Box does look intriguing). You should have learnt not to jump on directors band-wagon after 1 film and you should have learnt not to bag a promising director cause of 1 dud. Every director fucks up one time in their career.
  • zeldaprimed
    the dude who did the Halo ODST commercial...
  • D9Phan
    Berg would have been good. Del Toro could do it if he wasn't booked for the next 40 years. Fincher could do it justice - although he's not really a sci-fi guy. I'd say without a doubt, Blomkamp would be the wiser choice between him and Marshall. Marshall should stick to smaller genre fare, where Blomkamp showed he can do epic stuff on a tight budget.
  • jebb
    Let a director that wants to do it direct it, a great Dune movie will only emerge out a labor of love, not studio tinkering.
  • Impietas
    Any director could really pull this film off. Provided they have the passion to make it. This is the kind of thing that should be done right this way. Done simply because of 'names' is just not the best thing for a story/film of this magnitude. Take all the above mentioned names... all great ideas, but they would have to be as passionate about the said film as they were about certain previous works. Personally speaking however, I would love to see the sort of vision that Shyamalan had on The Sixth Sense. Better yet, how about Scott on Alien. Those are passion projects, and it seriously shows in the overall work. Bring on a director that will put 110% of themselves into and it will work.
  • Kev
    I think at this point in time Zack Snyder would be the perfect choice. Take '300' replace the Spartans with Fremen. Take 'Watchmen' which is one of the most intelligent Super Hero films to date and didnt shy away from sticky subject matter and replace that with the complexity and dynamics of the Dune Universe and I reckon Universal would be on to a winner. I think only Zack has the intelligence and the talent to turn Dune into the epic it deserves to be. The problem is getting Zack from WB...which probably never going to happen, sadly. Maybe Universal should approach WB and share the costs and the risk as its going to be a financial strain on any studio.
  • I'm all for Duncan Jones too as I think Blomkamp will be busy for awhile...Either would be perfect though.
  • Henré Botha
    Blomkamp for president! It's obvious he has equal parts good taste and cheese. District 9 had its freakish alien weaponry and the robot suit (!), but it also never became an excuse for a shoot-out - it remained intelligent to the end. District 9's story was inherently about racism. Dune's story is inherently about politics and ecology. I am confident that Blomkamp would give the political and ecological issues centre stage, while awing us all with mind-bending Weirding Way fights and balls-tripping precog sequences. Plus, I think he'd make Shai-Hulud properly terrifying and awesome. (As a South African, I might be slightly biased here. :P)
  • Devin
    The thing I'm happy about is when they said they want a director who has, "a preexisting passion for the novel and is enthusiastic about the project." If you give a director with some good talent, who loves this book as much as the true fans do then I think they will be able to do it justice. If this movie turns out as poorly (in my opinion) as the first movie then I will be very disappointed. Dune is my favorite book of all time and I have yet to see someone truly capture what was so amazing about it to me (the Dune sci-fi miniseries wasn't bad but just not as good as I thought it could be). "Ya hya chouhada!"
  • I would hope for someone like Neil Jordan. Its almost offensive to my senses that they'd consider a twilight actor for the role of Paul! I'm glad Dune is so loved- but in the same token, I am relieved that places like Hot Topic have yet to peddle "Dune" wares. We all know what will happen if some one like that is involved in this film...cheapening.. Peter Jackson also had some serious flops in his day, does anyone remember bad taste or dead alive? Oh my god. LOL. He's redeemed himself. Considering all the weird, nonsensical, and overly artsy bullshit David Lynch has released..you must admit that the baron and benne gesserit were impressive- and the film ..in my opinion was very very well done. Also...Mel Gibson, I know it sounds crazy but he's really a tremendous director. He seems committed to his scenery,his costuming, and the acting..I am always happy to see his films - who ever does his casting has done a great job finding talented no names.
  • Ridley Scott Hands down. Ridley Scott would be perfect to do Dune.
  • Johnny Mustang
    Blomkamp couldn't pull it off and Marschall has succesfully proven that he can't make movies. The twilight guy is even more horrible than Hayden Christiansen and Shia Lebeouf ... What has become of cinema? Everyone is just dropping big names, but in the end those movies are either boring or abysmal! Ridly Scott would be great as would Jodorowski or even David Fincher. I would love to see it done by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro. However ... I really loved david lynchs dune. Too bad he didn't have enough time and freedom.

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