‘Dune’ opens at $ 40 million at the box office; strong enough for a sequel?

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“Dune,” an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, opened for $ 40.1 million at the North American box office. It’s a respectable start given the ongoing pandemic and the film’s unconventional theatrical debut. In addition to playing in 4,125 national theaters, “Dune” (like all Warner Bros. films in 2021) aired simultaneously on HBO Max, which could have taken a significant portion of overall ticket sales.

In a milestone for the studio, “Dune” landed the biggest three-day count for Warner Bros. ever since the company started its day-and-date strategy on HBO Max. “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which posted a record $ 31 million in April, previously held that record.

In the months in between, expected films such as “The Suicide Squad”, LeBron James’ sports comedy “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and the musical adaptation of “In the Heights” fell short of expectations. box office while simultaneously being offered on HBO Max.

“I’m smiling,” Warner Bros. National Distribution President Jeff Goldstein said Sunday morning. “The exhibitors are delighted. The best part is that the fans love what they see. They love the big screen experience. It’s the winner of a weekend for moviegoers.

Directed by Oscar nominee Denis Villeneuve (“Blade Runner 2049” and “Arrival”) and starring Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac and Josh Brolin, “Dune” is the first chapter in an expected two-part saga . Villeneuve and the cast have said they would like to follow up to complete the story of the warring political dynasties clashing for access to a vital planet.

The question now: will the sale of tickets to start be enough to justify a sequel?

Given the film’s hefty price tag of $ 165 million, including the millions spent to market it as a cinematic event, it’s unclear whether the box office revenue alone will be enough to justify a return on the desert lands of Arrakis.

In that case, “Dune” will have to perform very well on HBO Max to convince the studio that it would have to inject an additional $ 165 million to complete the Starry Interplanetary Tale. Legendary Pictures co-funded “Dune” in addition to producing and developing the film.

In an interview with Variety this week, WarnerMedia president Ann Sarnoff said plans for the sequel will be based on “everything ‘Dune’ can do for the company, including HBO Max.” She added, “The story itself sets up a sequel. The production is so amazing and the storytelling is so compelling that it won’t just be judged at the box office.”

Fervent fans of Herbert’s flagship 1965 novel searched for “Dune” on the biggest screen possible, with high-end formats such as Imax, Dolby, and 4DX accounting for 50% of national ticket sales. Imax alone contributed $ 9 million, or 22.5% of the market share, marking the company’s biggest opening weekend since the pandemic.

Also new to theaters this weekend, Disney’s animated adventure “Ron’s Gone Wrong” raised $ 7.3 million from 3,560 theaters across North America. The family-friendly film, centered on socially awkward college boy Barney and his faulty robot friend (Zach Galifianakis), was well received by audiences (it has an “A” CinemaScore), which could be a promising sign for its theatrical release. .

Although it only performed in theaters, “Ron’s Gone Wrong” placed fifth at the box office behind remaining titles “Halloween Kills”, James Bond entry “No Time to Die” and l comic book adaptation “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”.

At a distant second place, Universal’s slasher sequel “Halloween Kills” raised $ 14 million in its second weekend in theaters, falling 71% since opening. It has grossed $ 73 million in North America to date, a win for the budgeted $ 20 million horror film. Already, the studio has announced that franchise star Jamie Lee Curtis will return for the “Halloween Ends” follow-up, slated for October 14, 2022.

MGM’s “No Time to Die” landed in third place with $ 11.8 million, bringing its national total to $ 120 million. Sony’s sequel to “Venom” took fourth place, grossing $ 9.1 million between Friday and Sunday. After four weeks, the anti-hero adventure, starring Tom Hardy, grossed $ 181 million.


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