Produced by New Amsterdam Entertainment, Blixa Film Produktion and Hallmark Entertainment Distribution, the series was first broadcast in the United States on December 3, 2000 on the Sci Fi Channel. It was later released on DVD in 2001, with a director's cut appearing in 2002.
A 2003 sequel miniseries called Frank Herbert's Children of Dune continued the story, adapting the second and third novels in the series (1969's Dune Messiah and its 1976 sequel Children of Dune). As of 2004, both miniseries were two of the three highest-rated programs ever to be broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel.
Frank Herbert's Dune won two Emmy Awards in 2001 for Cinematography and Visual effects in a miniseries/movie, as well as being nominated for a third Emmy for Sound editing. The series was also praised by several critics, including Kim Newman. 
The miniseries was shot in Univisium (2.00:1) aspect ratio, although it was broadcast in 1.78:1.
While many book fans consider the 1984 movie adaptation of Dune an unfaithful adaptation, fans have heatedly debated whether the miniseries more truly reflects the philosophical and thematic point of view of the original. Those who consider it to be a more accurate adaptation of the saga than the 1984 movie are probably in the majority; however, dissenters contend that the miniseries' deviations from the book are at least as major as those of Lynch's film, and that the latter better conveys the subtleties and nuances of Herbert's novel.
Director John Harrison has described his film adaptation as a "faithful interpretation" in which any changes he made served to suggest what Herbert had explained subtly or not at all. The miniseries introduces elements not found in Herbert's novel, but according to the director, these serve to elaborate rather than to edit.
Herbert's novel begins with lead character Paul Atreides being 15 years old and aging to 18 over the course of the story. Harrison aged the character to adulthood in order to increase the quality of the acting for this crucial role.
Some have taken issue with Alec Newman's portrayal of the Paul Atreides character (particularly in the first part of the film), as an angst-filled, rebellious, petulant teenager, which they consider a contradiction with his portrayal as a mature-beyond-his-years protagonist in Herbert's novel. However, others believe that in the miniseries, Newman's conflicted portrayal is more realistic.
Paul would also rub his right temple when frustrated, a trait shared by the Baron Harkonnen, a subtle but effective foreshadowing to their relation.
The miniseries also boasted some stylistic changes. For example, whereas Herbert's ornithopters were described as truly birdlike in their flight, the miniseries' ornithopters more closely resembled insects. Contention surrounding the 'correct' pronunciation of Herbert's character names such as "Harkonnen", "Chani", and "Fedaykin" aside, the miniseries opted for a Western pronunciation ("Fed-die-kin") as opposed to the Arabic-sounding one used in Lynch's film (which would seem appropriate given the extensive, Arabic-themed terminology in the novel). The miniseries also decided, for unknown reasons, to pronounce the Harkonnen name with the emphasis on the first syllable instead of the second. Chani's name was pronounced with a hard "a" instead of the soft "a" used in the Lynch film. Some fans were upset by the look of the spice-addicted characters' eyes, believing that the phosphorescent light blue coloring was not consistent with Herbert's description, "blue within blue".
The miniseries invents an extensive subplot for Irulan Corrino, a character who plays little part in the plot of the first novel. Harrison felt the need to expand Irulan's role because she played such an important part in later books, and epigraphs from her later writings opened each chapter of Dune. Additionally, the character gave him a window into House Corrino. Besides the final scene, the only one of Irulan's appearances based on an actual excerpt from the novel is her visit to Feyd-Rautha. However, in the book it is a different Bene Gesserit, Margot Fenring, who visits the Harkonnen heir, on assignment from the Bene Gesserit to "preserve the bloodline" by retrieving his genetic material (through conception) for their breeding program. The miniseries does not suggest this as Irulan's motive.
Actor Role William Hurt Duke Leto Atreides Alec Newman Paul Atreides/Muad'Dib Saskia Reeves Lady Jessica James Watson Duncan Idaho Jan Vlasák Thufir Hawat P.H. Moriarty Gurney Halleck Robert Russell Wellington Yueh Laura Burton Alia Atreides Ian McNeice Baron Vladimir Harkonnen Matt Keeslar Feyd-Rautha László I. Kish Glossu Rabban Jan Unger Piter de Vries Giancarlo Giannini Padishah Emperor Julie Cox Irulan Corrino Miroslav Táborský Hasimir Fenring Uwe Ochsenknecht Stilgar Barbora Kodetová Chani Jakob Schwarz Otheym Karel Dobrý Liet Kynes Christopher Lee Brown Jamis Jaroslava Šiktancová Shadout Mapes Zuzana Geislerová Reverend Mother
- Kevin J. Anderson Interview ~ DigitalWebbing.com (2004) Internet Archive, July 3, 2007.
- See Science Fiction/Horror by Kim Newman, BFI Publishing, 2002.
- "DUNE: Remaking the Classic Novel" - Cinescape.com
- SciFi.com ~ Ask John Harrison
- Julie Cox's narration at the beginning and end of the miniseries reflects Irulan's later role as historian of the Atreides empire, illustrated by Herbert through epigraphs.
- Harrison has stated in interviews that actress Alice Krige was his first choice to play Jessica, but she was unavailable and Reeves won the role. Krige would later play the role in the sequel miniseries when Reeves was unavailable.