Dune Shines On Big Screen Despite Hybrid Release

Long-awaited sci-fi update sold $40.1M in tickets
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 24, 2021 4:10 PM CDT
Dune Shines On Big Screen Despite Hybrid Release
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Jason Momoa in a scene from "Dune."   (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Denis Villeneuve's Dune debuted with $40.1 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend in North America, drawing a large number of moviegoers to see the thundering sci-fi epic on the big screen despite it also being available to stream in homes. Warner Bros. launched the Legendary Entertainment production simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. When the studio first charted that course for all its 2021 releases due to the pandemic, how the strategy would affect Dune—one of the year's most anticipated spectacles—was always one of the biggest question marks. Villeneuve vehemently protested the decision. “I strongly believe 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. has continued to maintain it will return to exclusive theatrical releases next year. For now, the $165 million-budgeted Dune marks the best domestic opening for any of the studio's hybrid releases, surpassing the $31.7 debut of Godzilla vs. Kong in March. Expectations had hovered closer to $30-35 million for Dune. "This was a tremendous result as we're ramping out of the pandemic," said Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warner Bros. “Once we get out of the pandemic, if we have a movie like this, clearly you'd want to go into theaters first. There's no question of that.”

Last week's top film, Universal Pictures' horror sequel Halloween Kills, also launched well while streaming at home, on Peacock. After debuting with $50.4 million, Halloween Kills slid steeply in its second week with $14.5 million, good for second place. In two weeks, it has grossed $73.1 million domestically. 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 has brought in more than $525 million. MGM, United Artists and Universal Pictures charted a theater-only release for No Time to Die. The weekend's biggest disappointment, albeit not unexpectedly, 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.

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The top 10 movies based on estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore.

  1. Dune
  2. Halloween Kills
  3. No Time to Die
  4. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
  5. Ron's Gone Wrong
  6. The Addams Family 2
  7. The Last Duel
  8. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  9. The French Dispatch
  10. Free Guy
(More box office stories.)

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