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Eric Roth turned in a 200 page script for Denis Villeneuve's Dune

Dune David Lynch Sting Kyle MacLachlan

Screenwriter Eric Roth has been nominated for a Best Writing Academy Award four times and won the Oscar for the screenplay he wrote for FORREST GUMP. He has worked with the likes of Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Kevin Costner, and Robert Redford - he does quite well for himself and contributes to high profile projects. All this despite the fact that he apparently writes scripts that are much longer than is usually advisable.

It's interesting to note that Roth has written eleven feature films in the last twenty-four years and not a single one of them has come in under 2 hours in length. Most of them are much longer than 2 hours. Examples: FORREST GUMP was 142 minutes, THE POSTMAN 177 minutes, THE HORSE WHISPERER 169 minutes, THE INSIDER 157 minutes, ALI 157 minutes, MUNICH 164 minutes, THE GOOD SHEPHERD 167 minutes, and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON was 166 minutes.

Then a few years ago he wrote a 15 minute short called ELLIS, so he is capable of being brief if he wants to be.

I only thought to look up the running times of the projects Roth has worked on because he recently sat down for a writer roundtable hosted by The Hollywood Reporter, and in the middle of the conversation he brought up the subject of the adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel DUNE that he has written for director Denis Villeneuve. He mentioned: 

[Executives always say] less is more, right? I happen to write 180-page screenplays. Anyway, there's a famous story about John Huston working with Jean-Paul Sartre, who was writing [1962's] Freud. Sartre turned in his draft. It was 180 pages, let's say. And Huston said, "Spectacular. But it's way too long. So we'll get somebody to cut it." And Sartre said, "I'll take care of it." He left and came back with a 224-page draft. (Laughter.) On [the upcoming] Dune, I wrote a 200-page draft. And the head of the studio said, "This is never going to work." And they eventually got somebody to shorten it because I can't do it.

A 200 page draft of DUNE would probably make for a film that would be well over 3 hours, so it's understandable that the studio would want that to be cut down a bit. It's interesting that Roth says another writer is handling the revisions, since he's the only one who has been announced as working on the script so far.

Villeneuve's film will be the third adaptation of DUNE. The first was a 1984 feature (pictured above) directed by David Lynch, and three cuts exist of that one: the 137 minute theatrical cut, a 177 minute extended cut, and a 190 minute special edition. The other adaptation came along in 2000 and was a three part mini-series directed by John Harrison. The director's cut of that is 292 minutes. There's a lot of story to tell when it comes to DUNE.

DUNE follows 

Paul Atreides, whose family assumes control of the desert planet Arrakis. As the only producer of a highly valuable resource, jurisdiction over Arrakis is contested among competing noble families. After Paul and his family are betrayed, the story explores themes of politics, religion, and man’s relationship with nature, as Paul leads a rebellion to restore his family’s reign.

Timothée Chalamet, who received an Oscar nomination for his performance in last year's CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, is signed on to play Paul in Villeneuve's film. Rebecca Ferguson of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT was recently reported to be in talks to play Paul's mother, Lady Jessica.

Villeneuve is producing the new adaptation with Mary Parent and Cale Boyter. Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt, Thomas Tull, and Kim Herbert serve as executive producers, and Kevin J. Anderson is the creative consultant.

Source: THR

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