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‘Dune 2’ at $81.5 Million Scores Biggest Opening of 2024

‘Dune 2’ at $81.5 Million Scores Biggest Opening of 2024
Javier Bardem in 'Dune: Part Two'. Image: Supplied / Warner Bros. Pictures

Dune: Part Two, the new installment in a sprawling film series based on the sci-fi story by Frank Herbert, opened with weekend ticket sales of $81.5 million in US and Canadian theaters, delivering the best debut this year. 

Researchers at Box Office Pro, owned by a theater industry trade group, were forecasting sales of about $80.9 million. Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., which released the film in partnership with Legendary Entertainment, was predicting a more conservative $65 million.

Advance ticket sales ran far ahead of the original, which would go on to gross more than $400 million worldwide, Box Office Pro said. Some fans packed theaters at 3 a.m. just to get good seats at a 70 mm Imax screening.

“We’re thrilled with these results, and I really want to know who’s going to those 3 a.m. screenings,” Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros. Pictures, said by phone. “It’s clear we’re having a cultural moment globally.”

The opening is the biggest since Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour brought in $93.2 million last October. It’s also the biggest opening of the year after a slow start for the box office, with North American ticket sales down 18% through Feb. 25. Dune Two was helped by raves from critics, with 94% recommending the picture, according to Rotten Tomatoes, a website that aggregates reviews. No movie released this year has exceeded $50 million in a domestic debut.

Read More: Hollywood Banks on ‘Dune: Part Two’ to Revive Blockbuster Cinema

“Strong early reviews, an aggressive marketing campaign against weak competition and the expected skew toward premium large-screen formats (like Imax) lifting average ticket prices are positives,” Bloomberg Intelligence said in a research note. “On the other hand, the film’s two hour, 46-minute runtime means fewer screenings.”

Close to half of ticket sales were for larger formats such as Imax and Dolby. “All the data we’re seeing indicates that this film will have a long, successful run in Imax,” Imax Chief Executive Officer Rich Gelfond said by email.

The new Dune is the second in what director Denis Villeneuve intends to be a trilogy. It features Timothée Chalamet returning in the starring role of Paul Atreides, an aristocrat on a desert planet, and Zendaya as Chani, his partner. The pair seek revenge against those who destroyed his family.

The development of any third film will depend on a range of factors, including “whether Dune: Part Two performs and whether creatively we feel it’s a story we have to tell,” Legendary Entertainment CEO Josh Grode said by phone. “Everyone’s working very hard to make it happen.”

The first picture premiered in 2021 in theaters and on the HBO Max streaming platform simultaneously, while Hollywood was still coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.

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