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Lynch agreed to direct a big-budget adaptation for Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis's provided that De Laurentiis Entertainment Group release a second Lynch project, over which the director would have complete creative control.
Although De Laurentiis hoped it would be the next Star Wars, Lynch's Dune (1984) was a critical and commercial dud; it cost $45 million to make, and grossed a mere $27.4 million domestically. Co-star Brad Dourif, who portrayed Piter de Vries, referred to it as "science fiction's answer to Heaven's Gate" (which Dourif also starred in).
Universal Studios released an "extended cut" of the film for syndicated television; this contained almost an hour of cutting-room-floor footage and new narration (this time by a male actor; Virginia Madsen had narrated the theatrical version). Such was not representative of Lynch's intentions, but the studio considered it more comprehensible than the 2-hour version. Lynch objected to these changes and had his name struck from the extended cut, which has "Alan Smithee" credited as the director and "Judas Booth" (a pseudonym which Lynch himself invented, inspired by his own feelings of betrayal - a reference to Judas the disciple and John Wilkes Booth who assassinated Abraham Lincoln) as the screenwriter.
The 3-hour version has since been released on video worldwide.
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