Another director quits Dune, as time runs out on for the projectS

Pierre Morel (Taken) has reportedly quit as director of Frank Herbert's Dune, which Peter Berg was also on board to direct at one point. And unless Paramount can get the film up and running by spring, they'll lose the rights.

According to Deadline, Paramount faces a "ticking clock situation" over Dune, which is seeking a new director in the wake of Morel's departure. (Morel will still be credited as an executive producer.) The film has a solid script — Morel worked with writer Chase Palmer to revise the screenplay that Berg had been working with — but Paramount could still walk away. Says Deadline:

Despite the ticking clock, Paramount is proceeding as cautiously as it would on any project that will carry a price-tag well north of $100 million. Unless studio brass is absolutely confident by the time the buzzer goes off, Paramount will kiss the project goodbye. It will forfeit the six figures it has paid in option costs and risk development costs, though it could recoup some of the latter if another backer embraces the script Paramount paid Palmer to write.

Part of the problem? Paramount has to agree with the Herbert estate on a director — and the Herbert estate is represented by Richard P. Rubinstein, who produced the Syfy miniseries. Add to that the studio's foot-dragging on committing to spending over $100 million to remake a film that flopped in the 1980s, and you have a situation that could prevent us from seeing another big-screen Dune adaptation for years.

There are two best-case scenarios: Either Paramount finds another director and gets its act together in the next few months, or the Herbert estate turns around and sells the rights to a studio that's willing to move faster. The absolute worst-case scenario is that the Herbert estate finds a studio that's willing to do a Dune film quickly — and badly. Fingers crossed. [Deadline]