Stars descend on Abu Dhabi for Dune: Part Two Middle East premiere

Galleria Mall had all the glam expected for a red carpet event, but light-heart energy made the night memorable

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The Middle East premiere for Dune: Part Two had all the glam and pomp expected for a red carpet event, but it was the light-hearted energy that made the night memorable.

Dave Bautista faced fans in heated rock paper scissor matches. Josh Brolin signed Funko Pops of characters he’s played. Denis Villeneuve spoke about his love of the Empty Quarter, and to top it off, fans got the chance to have their photos taken by a large sand worm installation, posing in front of its gaping, toothy mouth.

Director of Dune Part Two reveals 'surprising moments' in Abu Dhabi desert

Director of Dune Part Two reveals 'surprising moments' in Abu Dhabi desert

Several stars attended the premiere at Vox Cinemas in Abu Dhabi’s Galleria Mall on Sunday. These included the film’s actors, such as Bautista and Brolin, as well as its director Villeneuve, along with his wife, producer Tanya Lapointe. However, there were also a few surprise guests, including French football star Patrice Evra and Iraqi YouTube personality Noor Stars. The event was hosted by radio presenter and Dubai Bling star Kris Fade.

Both Dune films were shot, in part, in Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarter. The landscape was used to portray the arid desert of Arrakis, where a majority of the films take place. The films were also shot in Italy, Hungary and the Petra region of Jordan. However, it was in the Empty Quarter where Brolin was existentially awestruck by the desert and its majesty.

“I think when you show up to the desert for the first time, you feel very insignificant,” he told The National on the red carpet. “I love that feeling. I love that feeling of humility. Then, by the time you leave, you’re crying. You don’t want to leave because there’s something about that kind of spiritual insignificance that you start to feed off of. It’s very nourishing. I saw my kids go through it. I saw my wife go through it. I fed off this place massively. We had a great experience.”

For Villeneuve, filming in Abu Dhabi’s desert was just as significant of an experience. The landscape easily lent itself to the camera, he said, and in many ways he let the desert guide the film’s idiosyncratic aesthetics.

"The thing that surprised me the most is when I woke up one morning and it was full of fog,” he told The National. “It was very ghostly and mesmerising. I decided to use that in the movie. It was something I was not expecting at first."

While Brolin and Villeneuve were returning to Abu Dhabi and were looking forward to exploring the emirate’s urban facet this time around, it marked Bautista’s first visit. However, being a fan of desert environments, he said he was looking forward to discovering the Empty Quarter portion of Abu Dhabi.

“Everyone keeps saying its hot, but I love the heat,” he said. “In the US, I love to go to places like the Arizona desert or Albuquerque in New Mexico. They constantly try to run and cover me with an umbrella, [but] I’m a sun devil, I love the heat.”

Dune: Part Two releases in UAE and Lebanon on February 29, and is scheduled for a wider regional release on the April 11

Updated: February 23, 2024, 1:16 PM