Legendary, ‘Dune’ Helmer Denis Villeneuve Re-Team On ‘Nuclear War: A Scenario’

EXCLUSIVE: In a deal worth $500,000 against $1.5 million, Legendary Entertainment has optioned Pulitzer Prize finalist Annie Jacobsen’s nonfiction book Nuclear War: A Scenario as a potential reteam with its Dune: Part Two director Denis Villeneuve. The expectation is that Villeneuve would take this one as another giant project after he completes Dune: Messiah, which he and Legendary are developing as the conclusion of the trilogy.

Deadline reveals the deal just as Nuclear War hits the New York Times bestseller lists. The book explores a ticking-clock scenario about what would happen in the event of a nuclear war, based on dozens of exclusive new interviews with military and civilian experts who built the weapons and have been privy to the response plans and have been responsible for those decisions should they need to be made.

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This comes after Oppenheimer cleaned up at the Oscars, telling the story of the development of the A-bomb in a race against Hitler’s Germany. The expectation is that Villeneuve would look to adapt and/or direct Nuclear War, producing with his longtime partner Tanya Lapointe. The expectation also is that this would be a chilling cautionary tale about where the world might be headed in an age of political volatility at a time when too many countries have nuclear capabilities. Oppenheimer dealt with the title character and other scientists’ knowledge they could be introducing weaponry that could destroy the world. A nuclear armageddon could finish the job.

Legendary followed Dune: Part Two (the highest-grossing film of the year with $637 million in global receipts and counting) by launching another global blockbuster in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. That film, the second helmed by Adam Wingard and the fifth from Legendary’s Monsterverse franchise, just opened to a $251 million worldwide tally in its first week in release. Legendary principals Josh Grode and Mary Parent are continuing to swing for the fences.

The book originated from an idea by The Story Factory’s Shane Salerno, who brought it to Jacobsen and worked with her on the manuscript. Villeneuve and Jacobsen are repped by CAA. Jacobsen is managed by Circle of Confusion.

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