‘Star Wars’ and ‘Dune’ Literally Collided in a Random Desert

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Characters from Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

Credit: Lucasfilm

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)JJ Abrams’s conclusion to the nine-film Skywalker Saga that began with George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) — was in the middle of innocently filming in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan in 2018 when the production team behind Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (2021) adaptation decided to begin their location scouting in a most unlikely location.

That’s right, they ended up in the very same desert.

rey in desert rise of skywalker
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Dune production designer Patrice Vermette recently shared the amusing tale of how the two sci-fi franchises literally collided with The Hollywood Reporter:

“That really looked like a big tech scout,” he remembers telling Villeneuve, who often can look like he’s wincing knowingly when he smiles. When the chopper was back on the ground, Vermette followed his instincts and texted a friend, Paul Inglis, who had worked on Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 and since had been hired as the supervising art director on J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, then in production. “Hey, man, random question. Do you happen to be in Wadi Rum right now?” Vermette recalls writing. Inglis texted back, “Yup, was that you who just flew over us?”

Timothée Chalamet in Dune
Credit: Warner Bros.

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As one recent article noted, Dune and Star Wars have a good bit in common at first glance — from rich characters to desolate landscapes (hence, you know, the desert) — but Dune, until Villeneuve’s recent attempt, could not crack the film market the way the Star Wars franchise did from the start:

Author Frank Herbert released his first book in 1965, introducing readers to the desert planet of Arrakis and its chosen one Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet in the new movie). Star Wars owes much to Dune, even while it possessed things that, for many years, Dune did not: Successful movies.

Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson looking across desert in Dune
Credit: Warner Bros.

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Whether it’s the fact that Star Wars began as a movie universe, then expanded into novelizations — while Dune did the opposite — or the simple fact that Lucas’s characters, like Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) resonated with fans from the start, it is clear that there is nowhere to go but up for the Dune franchise.

star wars a new hope luke leia and han (from left)
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Villeneuve’s sequel was greenlit mere days after Dune made its theatrical debut and is currently set for an October 2023 release.

As for the Star Wars movie universe, Patty Jenkins’s Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, which was originally slated for December 2023, has been officially taken off of the Lucasfilm production schedule. This leaves Marvel President Kevin Feige’s and Thor director Taika Waititi’s as-yet-untitled Star Wars films as the only confirmed projects on the docket.

(l to r) jon favreau, dave filoni, and george lucas
Credit: Disney+ (Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian)

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There have, however, been rumors that the duo behind hit series The Mandalorianshowrunner Jon Favreau and executive producer Dave Filoni — are working on a Star Wars movie, but this remains unconfirmed.

More on Dune

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The official description of Dune reads:

A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, “Dune” tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive.

The film stars Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me by Your Name,” “Little Women”), Rebecca Ferguson (“Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep,” “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”), Oscar Isaac (the “Star Wars” franchise) Oscar nominee Josh Brolin (“Milk,” “Avengers: Infinity War”), Stellan Skarsgård (HBO’s “Chernobyl,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron”), Dave Bautista (the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, “Avengers: Endgame”), Stephen McKinley Henderson (“Fences,” “Lady Bird”), Zendaya (“Spider-Man: Homecoming,” HBO’s “Euphoria”), Chang Chen (“Mr. Long,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”), David Dastmalchian (“Blade Runner 2049,” “The Dark Knight”), Sharon Duncan-Brewster (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” Netflix’s “Sex Education”), with Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years,” “Assassin’s Creed”), with Jason Momoa (“Aquaman,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones”), and Oscar winner Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men,” “Skyfall”).

More on Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

The official description of The Rise of Skywalker reads:


As the ninth installment in the Skywalker saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker concluded the sequel trilogy with a galaxy-spanning adventure of heroism, sacrifice, and redemption. The young Jedi Rey [Daisy Ridley] and villainous Kylo Ren [Adam Driver] take center stage in an epic story that weaves together decades of Star Wars storytelling.

The Rise of Skywalker was directed by J.J. Abrams, written by Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams, and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan. Across Lucasfilm, the entire company mobilized to deliver this long-anticipated conclusion to one of defining myths of the modern era.


The fledgling Resistance is out-gunned against the overwhelming First Order and a new fleet of Sith warships led by the feared Emperor Palpatine. As a new Jedi, Rey must confront the evil threat, uncovering secrets of her own past and finding the strength to transcend it. Twisted between light and dark, Kylo Ren must choose his own path in the midst of the conflict.

rey (left) and kylo ren (right) with lightsabers in rise of skywalker
Credit: Lucasfilm

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John Boyega (Finn) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) also star.

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