Despite a hybrid release, ‘Dune’ shoots well on the big screen

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Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” debuted with $ 40.1 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend in North America, drawing large numbers of moviegoers to see the sci-fi epic booming on the big screen though it’s also available to stream in homes.

Warner Bros. launched the Legendary Entertainment production simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. When the studio first charted this course for all of its 2021 releases due to the pandemic, how the strategy would affect “Dune” – one of the most anticipated shows of the year – has always been discussed. one of the biggest question marks. Villeneuve vehemently protested the decision.

“I firmly believe that the future of cinema will be on the big screen, no matter what any Wall Street dilettante says,” Villeneuve wrote in a lengthy statement to Variety last December.

Warner Bros. continued to maintain that it will return to exclusive theatrical releases next year. So far, the budgeted $ 165 million “Dune” marks the best national opening for any of the studio’s hybrid releases, surpassing the $ 31.7 debut of “Godzilla vs. Kong” in March. Expectations had approached $ 30-35 million for “Dune”.

“This has been a tremendous result as we gradually come out of the pandemic,” said Jeff Goldstein, chief distribution officer for Warner Bros. “Once we’re out of the pandemic, if we have a movie like this, you would clearly want to go to theaters first. There’s no question about that.”

Goldstein estimated that the film would have debuted about 20% more at the box office had it not been released simultaneously. (The studio hasn’t released any streaming figures.)

By the start of the weekend, “Dune,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in early September, had already grossed $ 130 million internationally. This weekend, he debuted with $ 21.6 million in China, where Legendary and Wanda handled the cast. In total, “Dune” added $ 47.4 million internationally for a cumulative global gross of $ 220.7 million.

“Dune” is the second big-screen attempt to adapt the 1965 Frank Herbert epic, following David Lynch’s much-ridiculed 1984 version. Villeneuve’s “Dune”, which only adapts the first half of the book, stars Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya and Javier Bardem.

Legendary and Warner Bros. have not yet confirmed the sequel to “Dune”, which chronicles a violent change of power on the desert planet Arrakis, where a precious mineral called “spice” is harvested.

Movie buffs gave “Dune” an A- CinemaScore and critics (83% on Rotten Tomatoes) praised Villeneuve’s lyrical sweep and visual craftsmanship. It does particularly well on large format screens, with IMAX accounting for around $ 9 million in ticket sales.

“What I think Warner’s strategy has proven is that moviegoers, on the whole, will choose the movie theater experience when given the choice, especially for movies like this. “said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for data firm Comscore. “This should be a very encouraging sign for movie theater owners. The allure of the movie theater remains whether content is available in the home or not.”

Last week’s best film, Universal Pictures’ horror sequel, “Halloween Kills,” also got off to stream well at home, on Peacock. After debuting with $ 50.4 million, “Halloween Kills” fell sharply in its second week to $ 14.5 million, good for second place. In two weeks, it brought in $ 73.1 million to the country.

“No Time to Die,” Cary Fukunaga’s James Bond film starring Daniel Craig, came in third with $ 11.9 million in its third week. Worldwide, the film grossed over $ 525 million. MGM, United Artists and Universal Pictures are scheduled for a theatrical release only for “No Time to Die”.

The biggest disappointment of the weekend, while not unexpected, was “Ron’s Gone Wrong”. The lightly-marketed Disney animated release, produced by 20th Century Fox before Disney acquired the studio, opened with a modest $ 7.3 million domestically and about the same internationally.

But with good reviews and an “A” CinemaScore from audiences, the film could hold up well in the coming weeks, with little family competition. “Ron’s Gone Wrong” is about a college kid and his digital device walking and talking about Ron (voiced by Zach Galifiniakis).

Another Chalamet film, “The French Dispatch”, also made its debut with a bang. The Wes Anderson film, released by Disney’s Searchlight Pictures, launched with $ 1.3 million in 52 theaters. This gave “The French Dispatch” the best average per theater of the pandemic.

Anderson’s ode to the New Yorker, which had been delayed for a year due to the pandemic, opens nationwide on Friday. While “The French Dispatch” – a $ 25 million film with a star-studded cast including Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Benicio del Toro, Tilda Swinton and others – is no small independent, the performance of the premiere film week gave arts and essays a boost.

Searchlight Pictures Distribution Director Frank Rodriguez said in a statement: “These numbers show that after a year and a half, arthouse theaters and independent theaters have their own superheroes in action. Wes Anderson. “

Estimated Friday-Sunday ticket sales at US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final national figures will be released on Monday.

1. “Dune”, $ 40.1 million.
2. “Halloween Kills”, $ 14.5 million.
3. “No Time to Die”, $ 11.9 million.
4. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”, $ 9.1 million.
5. “Ron was wrong”, $ 7.3 million.
6. “The Addams Family 2”, $ 4.3 million.
7. “The Last Duel”, $ 2.1 million.
8. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” $ 2 million.
9. “The French Dispatch”, $ 1.3 million.
10. “Free boy”, $ 258,000.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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