I honestly don’t think there’s a such thing as an ‘unfilmable’ novel–not any more, at any rate–especially with so many ways to present a work.
You could choose network television–which brings certain advantages–or maybe HBO or Starz, or streaming options like Amazon or Netflix.
You have to match the material to the venue. This is crucial because you can literally doom a project if you make the wrong choice.
And we’re watching it unfold in real time with the upcoming Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve.
When you think of Dune you likely think of David Lynch’s remarkably ugly movie–which wasn’t terrible by any stretch–though as I said, it was unremittingly, aggressively unattractive; as if the filmmakers were trying to make some sort of statement.
That wasn’t Dune; though what Dune is is a sprawling, epic novel (and that’s not even taking into account the sequels) that a single movie CANNOT do justice.
In fact, you could easily extract a trilogy of movies from the first book alone–which is likely not to happen. Which means the film makers are likely to butcher the novel to fit a two hour running time.
And it won’t end well. Not for the box office and not for whichever studio releases the film (more than likely Universal by way of Legendary). Certainly not a good look coming off the failure of 2018’s Mortal Engines.
The only way to do Dune justice is by way of a network like HBO, Showtime or Starz–or streaming networks like Amazon, Netflix or Apple (it would be a great project for the latter, in an effort to establish their bonafides as a studio).
But as a feature film? If it sticks to the labyrinthine novel, it’s doomed to fail.