In the genre of “space opera” — that ill-defined sci-fi class with big heroes and epic starships — the vast majority of films are family-friendly. Star Wars can get hardcore with Rogue One and Revenge of the Sith, but doesn’t come close to critters popping-out of people’s chests like Alien. So, when will sci-fi fans get an epic space opera series made specifically for adults? The answer is very soon. Denis Villeneuve’s new version of Dune will likely be the first true space opera for grown-ups. Here’s why.

Back when the new Dune was still in pre-production in 2018, Villeneuve threw down the space gauntlet, saying his goal was “to do the Star Wars movie I never saw. In a way, it’s Star Wars for adults.”

The implication here is that Villeneuve thinks Star Wars is for kids. George Lucas would agree with him, having long maintained that the saga of a galaxy, far, far away is directly aimed at older children and adolescents.

The cinematographer on the new Dune, Greg Fraser, said that he’d initially worried about the influence of Star Wars, but as he got working on the project, realized it wasn’t that big of a deal. This is profound for one simple reason: Fraser was the cinematographer on Rogue One and also worked on The Mandalorian. Speaking to Collider in early June, he elaborated:

“I had to forget a lot of Star Wars when I was making Dune. It wasn’t hard, though. Denis and I spoke clearly about how the film should look and should feel, and the formats and this and that, so it was not hard to swerve and change lanes. There were some similarities like the deserts. I mean listen, ultimately I’m positive George Lucas was inspired by Dune when he made Star Wars. I don’t know if that’s sacrilegious to talk about, but there are a lot of similarities in some areas, so you could tell he was definitely influenced by that.”

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