A brand new series titled Dune: The Sisterhood has been greenlit for WarnerMedia’s new streaming platform. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the intent of the series is to explore the universe of Dune through the eyes of the Bene Gesserit, the secretive female order at the heart of the series.
Denis Villeneuve (who is writing, directing and producing the Dune film) will direct the pilot of the series. The Hollywood Reporter continues:
Jon Spaihts will pen the script for the TV series, which hails from Legendary Television. Villeneuve and Spaihts will executive produce alongside Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert for the Frank Herbert estate. Kevin J. Anderson will co-produce. Spaihts co-wrote the screenplay alongside Villeneuve.
Villeneuve had this to say on the project and his choice to single out the Bene Gesserit for television:
“The Bene Gesserit have always been fascinating to me. Focusing a series around that powerful order of women seemed not only relevant and inspiring but a dynamic setting for the television series.”
The series will be among the first original shows for the new WarnerMedia streaming service, which will include all Warner-owned content, including HBO, TBS, TNT, and CNN properties. This follows a move by WarnerMedia to expand Dune into an entertainment empire that will eventually extend to comics and video games. The first film—possibly one of two to encompass the original Dune novel—is set for release on November 20th, 2020.
There are a few aspects of this project that give me pause. First off, the suggestion is that this series is meant to cover Bene Gesserit machinations set during and around the events of Dune itself, which would indicate that the film(s) is not planning on focusing on them to the same extent. Not only does this seem like a mistake from a narrative perspective, given the importance of their actions within the central story, but it also smacks of believing that the stories of women and female characters are not interesting or wide-reaching enough to give them a place on the big screen. They are being pushed to television instead.
More importantly, this is a series about the most powerful women within the Dune universe… and the only woman involved in production so far appears to be author Frank Herbert’s granddaughter, Kim Herbert, who is representing Herbert’s estate alongside her father and cousin. Villeneuve is developing the show, and the sole writer attached in a man. A man responsible for the Passengers screenplay, I might add, which didn’t exactly do well by its central female character. Announcing projects like these with no female creatives attached never inspires a great deal of confidence. It’s 2019; we shouldn’t have to have the conversation anymore.
More information to come, but an awkward foot forward from Dune‘s ever-expanding franchise.