…First off: note that it’s not performing under expectations. Variety notes that it’s hitting expectations or a bit above, and obviously it was intended to have a sequel from the start. So:
It now seems possible that “Dune” could cross $300 million worldwide and potentially break even theatrically, something that’s a rarity for tentpole projects in good times and nearly impossible during a pandemic. (Even the latest James Bond film “No Time to Die” may struggle to turn a profit in cinemas.) HBO Max has not reported any viewership metrics.
So why hasn’t “Dune: Part II” officially been announced?
Variety downplayed it a little, but the answer is probably “how it’ll be distributed.” HBOMax will want to simultaneously release the film in theaters and on its streaming service; Legendary Pictures (the production company)… does not. They’d prefer a traditional 45 day theater-only release window. HBOMax won that fight for DUNE; Legendary likely wants another bite of the apple for DUNE II*. But, yeah, they’re gonna make a sequel. That was always the plan, after all**.
*DUNER? DOUBLING DUNE? THE DUNE THAT CAME TO HARKONNEN? Wait, that last one isn’t actually all that bad.
**Apparently this surprised people. I’m surprised that they’re surprised; I thought it was known that this was going to be at least a two-parter.