‘Dune: Part Two’ brings spice power to the box office with $81.5 million debut

Movie theatres hoped for a blockbuster to break the dry spell, and ‘Dune: Part Two’ emerged as the hero they had been waiting for. With its ensemble of interstellar narratives, spectacular visuals, and the luminous presence of Timothée Chalamet, director Denis Villeneuve’s sequel blasted through the North American box office, tallying an impressive $81.5 million in opening weekend ticket sales, per the latest studio estimates on Sunday. The film’s international success, with $97 million, amounted to a global bow of $178.5 million.

Legendary’s Mary Parent, who produced both Dune installments and heads worldwide production, expressed satisfaction, noting the film was crafted for the theatres and is being embraced as a theatrical spectacle. “Denis made a really extraordinary and special film, and it’s been really exciting to see people respond,” Parent commented.

The sequel marks the first box-office giant of 2024, filling a vacuum for exhibitors. While films such as Warner Bros.’ ‘Wonka’ featuring Chalamet and Sony’s ‘Anyone But You’ held over since December, not since the year’s inception has any film breached the $100 million mark domestically.

‘Dune: Part Two’, lauded by critics at a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, faced scant competition. Released across 4,071 locations in the U.S. and Canada, it won audience adulation, receiving the highest PostTrak ratings and an ‘A’ CinemaScore. According to audience exit data, the majority of opening weekend moviegoers were male (59%), with 64% aged over 25. The film, largely bankrolled by Legendary, cost notably more than the previously mentioned $122 million, rounding up closer to $190 million.

Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution, asserted that the film has captivated audiences worldwide, becoming a “cultural moment globally.” He highlighted that its success was partially due to the premium formats like IMAX and 70mm, which together accounted for nearly half of the film’s opening revenue. IMAX, which took in $18.5 million of the total income, had a record-breaking March.

The latest Dune release also signifies personal bests for its director Villeneuve, as well as stars Chalamet, Austin Butler, and Rebecca Ferguson. Originally set for an October 2023 release, the film was postponed due to Hollywood strikes, preventing its high-profile cast from engaging in promotional activities. A month-long global promotional tour ensued, sparking discussion through engaging interviews, a unique sandworm-inspired popcorn bucket, and dazzling fashion displays by its stylish young cast.

The strategic release timing has paid off, asserts Goldstein, who believes that “You don’t make movie stars any place other than theatres.” Meanwhile, Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore, aligns Villeneuve with Christopher Nolan in his ability to draw audiences to theatres.

The opening weekend of ‘Dune: Part Two’ not only vitalizes an industry experiencing a box office about 20% behind the previous year at the same time, but it also promises to inject fresh vigor into the coming months. Dergarabedian points out that this isn’t just a single triumph for March but a catalyst for rejuvenating the industry.

Amid this cine renaissance, Warner Bros. readies itself for the releases of ‘Godzilla x Kong’ at March end, ‘Furiosa’ in May, the ‘Beetlejuice’ sequel in September, and the ‘Joker’ sequel in October. Goldstein optimistically declares, “This is our year.” As exhibitors cling on, Warner Bros. aims to work hand in hand with them to maintain the industry’s resonance with audiences.

Comscore’s weekend estimates for ticket sales in the U.S. and Canadian theatres feature ‘Dune: Part Two’ at the pinnacle, followed by a list of diverse genres and titles filling out the top ten, with final domestic figures expected the following Monday. As the dust settles on an explosive debut, ‘Dune: Part Two’ proves to be the revival the box office was thirsting for.

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