Warner Bros. unearthed a gem with Dune, an ambitious sci-fi tale adapted for the big screen by Director Denis Villeneuve. Digging up $40.1M at the box office, Dune beat predictions of $30-$35 million and sets the three-day record for Warner Bros. films since the pandemic (that also opened on HBO Max). Dune also becomes Director Villeneuve’s highest grossing film to-date, surpassing 2017’s Blade Runner 2049 by a decent margin. This was not the first time the knotty story about warring tribes fighting over resources was in theaters. By all accounts, the 1984 rendition by Director David Lynch bombed. The difference this time around was Villeneuve’s expertise in weaving an easy-to-digest, eye-candy adventure – with a starry cast that includes Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.
Dune is a part of WarnerMedia’s HBO Max 2021 promo, so we can expect a steep drop next weekend. However, Dune is a film that could play out like 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road and be carried by word-of-mouth stemming from award nominations. Back then, Fury Road picked up six Oscars and has a spin-off set for next year in Furiosa. Coming off a successful weekend, there has already been rumors that Warner execs will greenlight a sequel for Dune.
The other new release, Ron’s Gone Wrong from 20th Century Studio, seemed like a mash-up of Disney & Pixar’s Big Hero Six and Inside Out – but did not attract the same attention. The PG-rated animated pic scored a modest $7.3M this weekend – enough for fifth place. You probably heard more about the debut of The French Dispatch from Director Wes Anderson.
Rolling out in just 52 theaters, Anderson’s R-rated comedy scored $1.3M and walks away with the best per-screen average ($25 thousand per-screen) since the pandemic. For reference, that’s better than the opening per-screen averages for Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($21.3K) and Black Widow ($18.7K). Major tentpoles are getting moviegoers back in theaters – with eight films surpassing $100M domestically. However, the arthouse flicks had been struggling because they often skew older in demographic. The French Dispatch shows that crowd has interest in returning to theaters.
Last week’s headliner Halloween Kills did not “slay” its sophomore weekend, dropping to $14.5M after a $50M debut (but still ranking second for the weekend). However, there was enough box-office demand this weekend to propel the total weekend figure to $95.3M – just shy of the $100M+ drumroll we had been predicting for October. Still, it is only 13 percent behind the same weekend from 2019 – we are well within the margins of a normal box-office for the month.
Third place went to No Time To Die, which has become the second Hollywood film after F9: The Fast Saga to net more than $500M globally this year – even before opening in China next weekend. Venom: Let There Be Carnage landed in fourth place and has racked up a $181.3M domestic total – just 3% behind 2018’s Venom through the same time-frame.
Up next, October closes out with Focus Features’ Last Night in Soho and Searchlight’s Antlers this Friday 10/29. And after that? Marvel’s Eternals is sure to make headlines with a strong blockbuster start for November.