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‘Dune’ and ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Nearly Crossed Swords In the Desert

Dune Cliffhanger
Warner Bros.

Production designer Patrice Vermette revealed to THR in a recent interview that “Dune” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” nearly crossed swords in the Jordan desert. Am I saying that correctly? Poor phrasing? Perhaps “crossed paths” is more appropriate.

Anyway, Vermette and his fellow “Dune” crew were scouting locations in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert when they noticed what looked like “a big tech scout” doing the same thing. However, the other crew was very much not part of the “Dune” posse, who were perplexed at what the other team may be doing poking around the desert sands. Turns out, that particular patch of desert was already being used for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

“When the [‘Dune’ team’s] chopper was back on the ground, Vermette followed his instincts and texted a friend, Paul Inglis, who had worked on Villeneuve’s ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and since had been hired as the supervising art director on J.J. Abrams’ ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,’ then in production. ‘Hey, man, random question. Do you happen to be in Wadi Rum right now?’ Vermette recalls writing. Inglis texted back, ‘Yup, was that you who just flew over us?’ The ‘Dune’ crew’s concerns were confirmed: ‘Star Wars’ already was there, shooting in Villeneuve’s dream desert location.”

As a result, “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve was fearful that settings and perhaps even storylines may overlap. Therefore, he and Vermette arranged a meeting with the “Star Wars” folks at a hotel bar to see if the two movies could both realistically use Wadi Rum without capturing overlapping imagery.

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“We told them, ‘We don’t want to know anything about your story, but let’s protect both of us and make sure we don’t end up shooting the exact same areas of the desert,’” Vermette said. “It was all cool.”

“Dune” is set to return to IMAX locations for a limited time starting December 3.