‘Dune: The Sisterhood’ Series Loses Director, Lead Actor & Co-Showrunner As Spinoff Gets Creative Overhaul

While Dune: Part Two completed it’s principal photography last year, the HBO Max series spinoff Dune: The Sisterhood coming from Legendary Television isn’t having the same kind of smooth develop or production process. A prequel series that started filming back in November that focuses on the influential Bene Gesserit (a religious sect of women with powers that inspired the Jedi) with the Harkonnen Sisters being some of the lead characters as the story takes place 10,000 years before the events of the films.

Deadline reports that the show is seeing even more turbulence and this time in front and behind the camera. Director Johan Renck (The Last of Us, Chernobyl) that had been tasked to shoot the first two episodes has now left. One of the lead actors on the show, Shirley Henderson had been tapped to play Tula Harkonnen but has also exited and her role will now be recast with someone else. Lastly, like that wasn’t enough of a headache co-showrunner Diane Ademu-John left ahead of production making Alison Schapker the sole showrunner on the prequel series. This has led to a production hiatus as the show is said to be undergoing a creative overhaul as Schapker is busy undergoing rewrites and production attempts to find a new director (possibly to reshoot those first two episodes).

The rest of the Dune: The Sisterhood cast includes Emily Watson, Indira Varma, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Shalom Brune Franklin, Faoileann Cunningham, Aoife Hinds, Chloe Lea, Travis Fimmel, Mark Strong, Jade Anouka, and Chris Mason.

Dune: The Sisterhood is told through the eyes of a mysterious order of women known as the Bene Gesserit. Given extraordinary abilities by their mastery of the body and the mind, the Bene Gesserit expertly weave through the feudal politics and intrigue of The Imperium, pursuing plans of their own that will ultimately lead them to the enigmatic planet Arrakis, known to its inhabitants as Dune. It will serve as a prequel to the films.

This doesn’t give off confidence about the show, however, HBO Max is trying to downplay the latest round of musical chairs on the project as they made their own official statement on the reporting, confirming elements of it. In that statement, HBO Max says that Renck’s exit was mutual but the report suggests that his footage might not ultimately end up being used in the final show as they now are seeking a new director.

“As Dune: The Sisterhood 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,” an HBO Max spokesperson told Deadline in a statement. “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.”

This isn’t the first time there have been hiccups. Dune: Part One screenwriter Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) and Dana Calvo (Narcos) had been previously tasked to write/showrun the spinoff streaming series only for Spaihts to exit himself as Legendary/Warner Bros. fast-tracked Dune: Part Two, which is now in the post-production stage as it’s set to be released on November 3, 2023. Calvo would also quietly leave with Ademu-John and Schapker picking up the reigns. Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve was announced to direct the pilot until Renck was brought on to replace him. So, as you might imagine more drama wasn’t all that shocking for anyone following this project.

We likely won’t have to wait too long for another director to be announced as Legendary/HBO Max are hellbent on getting this right.


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