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In 1971, the production company Apjac International (APJ) headed by film producer Arthur P. Jacobs optioned the rights to film Dune. However, Jacobs died in 1973 before a film could be developed.

In December 1974, a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon purchased the film rights from APJ, with director Alejandro Jodorowsky set to direct. Along with French producer Michel Seydoux, Jodorowsky proceeded to approach, among others, Virgin Records with the prog rock groups Tangerine Dream, Gong and Mike Oldfield before settling on Pink Floyd and Magma for some of the music; artists H. R. Giger, Chris Foss and Jean Giraud for set and character design; Dan O’Bannon for special effects; and Salvador DalĂ­, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine, Mick Jagger, Udo Kier, Amanda Lear and others for the cast. Jodorowsky intended his son Brontis, 12 years old at the start of pre-production, to star as Paul Atreides.