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“Dune: Part Two” Cliffhanger Ending Explained: Will There Be a Third Film?

Here’s what director Denis Villeneuve and the ‘Dune’ cast have said about a potential third movie

<p>Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures</p> (Left-right:) Florence Pugh; Timothée Chalamet; Zendaya in "Dune: Part Two"

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

(Left-right:) Florence Pugh; Timothée Chalamet; Zendaya in "Dune: Part Two"

Spoiler alert: The following contains major plot details for Dune: Part Two, out now.

At the end of the 2021 Timothée Chalamet movie Dune, audiences were left wondering if a sequel would follow its cliffhanger. Now that Part Two is in theaters, they may be feeling déjà vu: Will there be a third?

Director Denis Villeneuve has maintained that his plan was to adapt author Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel Dune, the story of Paul Atreides’ journey to the desert planet Arrakis and a messianic destiny, into two big-screen installments.

Not long after the first film’s premiere, a sequel was indeed green-lit, and the Oscar-nominated director told Entertainment Weekly he would like to make “at least threeDune movies.

"It's not that I want to do a franchise, but this is Dune, and Dune is a huge story,” Villeneuve, 56, said at the time. “In order to honor it, I think you would need at least three movies. That would be the dream. To follow Paul Atreides and his full arc would be nice."

Related: Dune Cast: Meet the New and Returning Stars of the Sci-Fi Franchise

<p>Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures</p> Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet in "Dune: Part Two"

Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet in "Dune: Part Two"

Covering most of the events and concepts in Herbert’s original novel, the 2021 and 2024 Dune films lead Chalamet down some of that arc as Paul. The character begins as ducal heir on the planet Caladan, training under his father (played by Oscar Isaac), mother (Rebecca Ferguson), mentor (Josh Brolin), swordmaster (Jason Momoa) and teacher (Stephen McKinley Henderson). 

Part Two finds Paul on Arrakis learning the ways of the mysterious Fremen people who see him as a prophetic messiah.

To avenge his royal house’s destruction at the hands of the universe’s emperor (Christopher Walken) and heads of rival clan the Harkonnens (Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista and Austin Butler), the burgeoning rebel must partner with his Fremen lover (Zendaya) and their leader (Javier Bardem) to halt the harvesting of Arrakis’ all-important spice and challenge those who seek to control it.

Last August, Villeneuve told Empire that “there are words on paper” for a third film, which would follow the events of Herbert’s second novel in the series, 1969’s Dune Messiah. (Herbert wrote six Dune novels, while his son Brian wrote further sequels, prequels and spinoffs.) “If I succeed in making a trilogy, that would be the dream,” the director reiterated.

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Dune: Part Two ends with Paul besting the Emperor and the Harkonnens and, with the Fremens’ help, launching the holy war across the universe that he had glimpsed in his spice-induced visions.

<p>Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures; Samir Hussein/WireImage</p> Timothee Chalamet in "Dune: Part Two"; Anya Taylor-Joy on Feb. 15

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures; Samir Hussein/WireImage

Timothee Chalamet in "Dune: Part Two"; Anya Taylor-Joy on Feb. 15

Anya Taylor-Joy, who made a surprise appearance at the Part Two premiere in London on Feb. 15, is introduced in another vision — as Alia Atreides, Paul's psychically gifted unborn sister.

Unlike in the Dune novel, Alia is not present when Paul overtakes his enemies and declares war at the end of Villeneuve’s sequel. The emperor’s daughter Princess Irulan, played by Florence Pugh, offers Paul her hand in marriage, which he accepts — complicating an already fraught relationship between Paul and Chani, Zendaya’s character.

Related: Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet Twin in Leather Jumpsuits at Dune: Part Two Event in South Korea

Although Chalamet, 28, and Zendaya, 27, don’t know for sure whether a Part Three is on the horizon, the costars told PEOPLE they’re interested in more. 

“I definitely am curious just as a fan watching,” said Zendaya. “I loved seeing Florence in this, and I'm very curious to learn more about Princess Irulan and the dynamic that she shares with Paul and Chani. I would love to see more of that.”

But, she notes, “it's up to Denis and the powers that be.”

In the climactic final scene of Part Two, said Chalamet, the tension between all three characters feels palpable. “Some of those shots are so creative, the way they communicate so much without a word.”

Both Alia and Irulan are characters with substantial roles in many of Herbert’s followups, starting with Dune Messiah.

“When I approached Zendaya for Part One, I said, ‘I'm going to introduce your character, and if it is a second movie, then you will be one of the main protagonists,’” Villeneuve told EW recently. “I made the same deal with Florence. Her character is introduced in Part Two, but then if there is an adaptation of Dune Messiah, of course Princess Irulan is one of the main characters in that story.”

Related: Austin Butler Says His Dune Counterpart Sting Offered to 'Let Me Wear' His Codpiece from Original Movie

<p>Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty</p> (Left-right:) Timothée Chalamet, Denis Villeneuve and Zendaya on Feb. 22

Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty

(Left-right:) Timothée Chalamet, Denis Villeneuve and Zendaya on Feb. 22

Reiterating to Time magazine in January that a Part Three “would make absolute sense,” Villeneuve revealed that if an adaptation of Dune Messiah happens, it “should be the last Dune movie for me.”

While fans eagerly wait for confirmation of a third movie, it seems Chalamet is among them. “The idea excites me very much,” the Oscar nominee told Total Film magazine in January. “If the time and opportunity comes to complete the story with Messiah, I think we’re all super enthusiastic about that.”

Dune: Part Two is in theaters now.

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