Austin Butler, Box Office, Denis Villeneuve, Dune: Part Two, Movie News, Movies, Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya

Box Office: ‘Dune 2’ Delivers on Promise With Big $81.5M Domestic Opening

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Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Dune: Part Two has delivered on its promise to reenergize the box office after a terrible early winter.

Denis Villeneuve’s sequel — sporting an A-list cast led by Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya — opened to an estimated $81.5 million in North America this weekend, double the first film and the biggest opening of the year to date. It’s a major win for Legendary in broadening the audience for its Dune franchise, and is the biggest opening to date for Villeneuve and Chalamet.

Dune 2 is likewise whipping up a sandstorm overseas, where it opened to $97 million from 71 markets for a global start of $178.5 million. (It doesn’t land in China until next weekend and Japan the week after that.) Sci-fi can be a tough sell in certain regions, including some Latin American markets, but Europe and other areas more than made up for any gaps. The U.K. led with $11.5 million, followed by France ($9.3 million) and Germany ($8.4 million).

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The film also did huge business in Imax theaters, which delivered $32.2 million of the total global gross, or a notable 18 percent. In 10 markets, Imax enjoyed its biggest opening ever. Like his friend Christopher Nolan, Villeneuve shot part of the movie with Imax cameras.

Throughout the weekend, Warner Bros. tried to manage expectations and suggested Dune 2 would debut more in the $72 million to $75 million range. The sci-fi genre can be a tough sell, and Villeneuve’s films runs two hours and 46 minutes. Also, many wanted to see Dune in Imax and other premium formats.

Dune 2‘s secret sauce? A glowing A CinemaScore, compared to an A- for the first, stellar reviews and, again, glowing audience exit scores.

Heading into the weekend, tracking said Dune 2 would launch domestically to $74 million. Warner Bros., however, remained more conservative in sticking with $65 million domestically and $75 million overseas.

After enduring one of the worst early winters in years (outside of the pandemic), theaters are banking on the movie to usher in a steady stream of event fare that was delayed by last year’s labor strikes.

Theaters were unhappy when Legendary, led by CEO Josh Grode, decided to delay the movie’s release from last fall to now so that Chalamet and Zendaya would be available to publicize the film and help broaden the audience (both have sway with younger viewers). But it turned out to be the right move; one example being the attention Chalamet received for his performance in Warner Bros.’ holiday winner Wonka.

The high-profile cast also includes series newcomers Austin Butler, Florence Pugh and Christopher Walken, joining Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista and Charlotte Rampling.

The long game, versus opening weekend, will be the true test for Villeneuve. He’s keen on making one one more film, Dune: Messiah, while Warners has a spinoff series, Dune: Prophecy, due out on Max later this year.

Dune grossed more than $402 million at the worldwide box office in 2021 — a solid and promising number considering the pressures of the pandemic and the film’s day-and-date streaming release — but the filmmakers have far bigger expectations for the follow up.

Dune 2‘s Thursday preview number of $12 million was also more than double the $5.1 million grossed in previews by Dune in 2021, although that movie was hobbled both by the pandemic and the decision to debut it simultaneously on HBO Max (now known as simply Max). Overall, the film was the strongest preview showing since Barbie racked up $22.3 million in July 2023. That same weekend, Oppenheimer started off with $10.5 million in previews on its way to a domestic debut of $82.5 million (Barbie rocketed to $162 million). The preview gross includes $1 million tacked on from an earlier Imax fan event.

While Dune 2 took up most of the attention, there was business to be had.

Elsewhere, Paramount’s biopic Bob Marley: One Love dropped just 45 percent in its second weekend to $7.4 million for an early domestic total of $82.8 million. Overseas, it’s also still singing loudly, grossing $63.3 million to date for a global tally of $146.1 million.

Lionsgate’s faith-based pic Ordinary Angels followed in third place with $3.8 million for a 10-day domestic total of $12.6 million. Another faith-based offering, The Chosen, also continued to impress. Fathom is previewing season 5 in theaters before it airs in the home, and this weekend’s offering of episodes 7 an 8 brought in $3.15 million for a running total north of $23 million.

Sony’s doomed Madame Web barely beat The Chosen with $2 million. The superhero pic’s domestic gross is just north of $44 million.

At the specialty box office, Searchlight’s Oscar contender Poor Things celebrated crossing the $100 million mark at the global box office, which is no easy feat in the art house space. Through Sunday, the film’s worldwide total is an estimated $104.6 million, including $33.6 million domestically and $71 million overseas.

March 1, 12:55 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
March 2, 7:30 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
March 3, 8 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
March 3, 12 p.m. Updated with grosses for Poor Things.

This story was originally published on March 1 at 8:48 a.m.

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