Dune: The Sisterhood, a prequel series that has been developing for a long time, has encountered a new setback as two key personnel depart. Even prior to the release of Denis Villeneuve’s successful Dune film in 2021, Warner Bros. had been diligently working on expanding the Frank Herbert sci-fi universe with a complete cinematic universe. Dune: The Sisterhood was first commissioned as a series on the unnamed HBO Max platform in 2019, but it struggled to gain traction in the following years. Despite production beginning, Dune: The Sisterhood now faces another challenge.
According to Deadline, Johan Renck, the director who had committed to directing the first two episodes of the series, has departed the production. In addition, Shirley Henderson, the lead actress who was set to portray Tula Harkonnen, has also left the show. Consequently, output on Dune: The Sisterhood has been paused while a replacement for Renck is sought and a new actress is cast as Tula. This follows Diane Ademu-John’s resignation as co-showrunner before filming began, leaving Alison Schapker as the sole showrunner. HBO Max issued a statement regarding this matter.
As Dune: The Sisterhood (wt) has entered a pre-scheduled hiatus, there are some creative changes being made to the production in an effort to create the best series possible and stay true to the source material. Johan Renck has completed his work on the series and a new director will be brought on; through mutual agreement, Johan is moving on to pursue other projects. Additionally, Shirley Henderson will be exiting the series and will no longer be playing Tula Harkonnen.
Dune: The Sisterhood’s Issues
Sources suggest that Ademu-John’s departure before production began on Dune: The Sisterhood led to Schapker having to do significant rewrites. Renck left the project reportedly because his directorial approach didn’t align with HBO Max’s vision for the show, and it’s unclear why Henderson exited. Reports conflict about the reason for the current filming delay of the series, with some saying it was already planned, while others claim it was postponed for seven months to allow Schapker to revise the series properly.
Dune: The Sisterhood has encountered new challenges despite already undergoing substantial changes in its creative team. The original plan was for Villeneuve to direct the pilot, with Spaihts (who co-wrote the Dune film) serving as co-writer and co-showrunner alongside Dana Calvo. However, both eventually stepped down from their positions, with Ademu-John taking over as co-showrunner in 2021 after Spaihts‘ departure. Despite this, the series made progress last year with the casting of key roles, including Emily Watson, Indira Varma, and Mark Strong, who is still attached to the project.
Despite the upcoming release of Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two in November, it appears that the ambitious prequel series, Dune: The Sisterhood, will not make much progress. The series aims to narrate the story of Bene Gesserit’s creation. Warner Bros. had a successful run with the first Dune, and it seems probable that the studio is still interested in exploring projects within the Dune universe. However, the future of Dune: The Sisterhood may be uncertain as HBO Max’s original content slate remains unclear. If the series doesn’t take off soon, there may be significant obstacles ahead.