Spice DAO reportedly purchased the book for 100 times its estimated value and will try to adapt its concept art into a series despite no ownership or rights to ‘Dune’ IP.
Though Alejandro Jodorowsky’s grand plans to adapt Dune never came to fruition, his story bible for the unmade sci-fi epic has become the stuff of legend -- especially since its influence on modern cinema was explored in Frank Pavich’s excellent documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune in 2013. Now, the book has been purchased by a cryptocurrency investor group, and its new owners plan on developing a limited animated series inspired by it.
This strange new chapter in the book’s still-unfolding history began when the group, known as Spice DAO (short for decentralized autonomous organization), reportedly paid somewhere between €2.2-2.6 million for it at an auction held by Christie’s in Paris last November. According to Decrypt, Spice DAO’s co-founder, Soban Saqib, spent about 100 times the estimated value of the book.
In December, the group made clear in a Medium post that it doesn’t actually own the rights to adapt Dune. “While we do not own the IP to Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, we are uniquely positioned with the opportunity to create our own addition to the genre as an homage to the giants who came before us,” the company cryptically said. Last Thursday, it shared another post, acknowledging that “we have not been able to reach an agreement with any of the rights holders involved in the creation of the contents of the book.”
These details have created some confusion around what exactly this company can do as owners of the book. But their stated plan, as outlined in an inaugural governance proposal, is to achieve the following four goals between January and March 2022:
- “Gain physical custody of Jodorowsky’s Dune book by arranging shipping and storage”
- “Digitally scan each page of the book”
- “Contract a social media agency to produce PR/marketing to disseminate our activities across all channels”
- “Present a film treatment and budget by Roble Ridge Productions for the original animated limited series inspired by the book for a community vote on Snapshot”
The big question, here: Just what does “inspired by the book” actually mean?
If Spice DOA can indeed get this project off the ground, the group will have to walk a very fine line between paying homage to the concept art of the book - which is the sole reason any audience would have interest in such a project to begin with - and keeping any existing IP out of its “original” material. Regardless, the amount the company paid at auction speaks volumes about its confidence in the long-term value of having its contents in its possession.