Doomed ‘Dune’ storyboards sell for €2.7m

A page of one of the ten Alejandro Jodorowsky’s epic 1970 Dune storyboard copies is displayed to the public three days before an auction at Christie’s Paris gallery, November 19, 2021. — AFP pic

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PARIS, Nov 23 — The storyboards for the doomed 1970s film version of sci-fi classic Dune sold for €2.66 million (RM12.5 million) at auction on Monday, around 100 times the expected price. 

Long considered a mythical object by sci-fi fans, the notebook of drawings for the film by Franco-Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky triggered a bidding war at Christie’s in Paris. 

The film project was supposed to bring together some major stars of the period including Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger and Pink Floyd — but fell apart after four years of preparation due to lack of funding. 

The auction went down to two determined bidders, with an American eventually emerging victorious. 

Christie’s admitted their initial valuation for the drawings — between €25,000 and €35,000 — had failed to account for the spike in interest triggered by the new version of the film starring Timothee Chalamet, that has topped box offices around the world in recent months. 

The drawings are collected in one large notebook, and were made by celebrated French graphic novelist Moebius (alias Jean Giraud, who died in 2012) and Swiss illustrator Giger, who went on to design the movie Alien in 1979 and died in 2014.

As well as Dali and Jagger, the tumultuous Dune project was also due to feature veteran Hollywood legends Orson Welles and Gloria Swanson in the cast, with Pink Floyd among the bands approached for the soundtrack. 

Its infamous collapse was retold in the 2013 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune.

The brainchild of author Frank Herbert, the novel Dune was first published in 1965 and became a six-volume space opera of massive influence, not least on the Star Wars franchise.

Following the latter’s blockbuster box office success, Hollywood took renewed interest in Dune in the early 1980s. 

That led to David Lynch’s version, released in 1984 with a cast including British musician Sting and Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: Next Generation. But that Dune movie had its own troubles and became one of the decade’s biggest flops. 

Jodorowsky’s storyboards were said to have influenced later hits of the genre including Blade Runner

“We know of several other copies: One was offered for auction several years ago, another is in Jodorowsky’s possession… A third has been partially reproduced online,” said Christie’s. 

It said around 10 to 20 copies were produced, though it was hard to be certain. — AFP