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‘Dune’ Heaps $41M Domestic Opening After Near $10M Sunday; Highest For Denis Villeneuve & HBO Max Day And Date

·25-min read

UPDATED, Monday AM: A bit of positive news that HBO Max didn’t completely wipe out the weekend box office on Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. Warner Bros reported Monday morning that Legendary’s Dune had a much better Sunday than anticipated: $9.78 million, off 29% from Saturday’s $13.7M, instead of $8.9M, down 35%. This will send the pic’s revised opening to $41 million.

Warners has a hold on the Imax and PLFs before Disney/Marvel’s Eternals on November 5. Still a tough weekend is ahead: While HBO Max event films have shown great slide in weekend 2, it’s also the first Halloween weekend in two years that will be competing with movies at the box office. At least a 60% second-weekend decline for Dune is in store. Again, it’s overseas where the studio is hoping for more of the gain. Searchlight’s Antlers and Focus Features’ Edgar Wright movie Last Night in Soho are opening wide this weekend, expected to do $5M apiece.

More from Deadline

. - Credit: Warner Bros
. - Credit: Warner Bros

Warner Bros

UPDATED, Sunday AM final: Dune has easily become Denis Villeneuve’s biggest domestic opening at the box office, and the best start for a Warner Bros/HBO Max day-and-date title with $40.1M. Business was actually better than many had anticipated for Saturday, off 22% from Friday with $13.7M, sending the Frank Herbert feature adaptation ahead of tracking’s opening forecast of $30M-$35M.

This is also the eighth film from Warners to open at No. 1 this year. The pic over-indexed in Villeneuve’s Canadian homeland, driving 11% of the gross where Dune resides on a theatrical window, sans HBO Max, since the OTT service isn’t available there yet.

Worldwide weekend on Dune was $87.5M, ahead of the $70M we were spotting, sending the pic’s total global running cume to $220.7M.

“Denis made an extraordinary movie and fans are enthusiastically appreciating it and spreading excellent word of mouth,” Warner Bros Theatrical Domestic Distribution boss Jeff Goldstein said.

. - Credit: Warner Bros.
. - Credit: Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

There are some cynical executives out there who want to gripe and say that this isn’t a great start stateside for a male-geared movie that is carrying $300M in estimated production and distribution costs.

Again, very few of these movies, which have been sitting on the shelf collecting interest costs during the pandemic, are apt to make their money back in the short term. In addition, there’s the whole hybrid release of Dune, which is certainly shaving off dollars. Legendary funded 75% of Dune, Warners 25%, but I understand the former and its cast and filmmaker were compensated by the studio in regards to profiting off of downstreams as though Dune performed like a mega-blockbuster. Such are the terms for these event movies which are sent to HBO Max.

And yes, the result here for Dune, and the vibrant pre-sales we heard about going into the weekend (the best to date), beg the question as to how much money is being left on the table with the HBO Max release, especially at a time when younger audiences are driving the box office recovery.

If Dune clocks a similar US household viewership draw in Samba TV terrestrial homes as the first weekend of New Line/HBO Max Mortal Kombat (3.8M), and we use the average price for Dune tickets from box office firm Market EntTelligence ($14.41), back-of-the-napkin calculations could indicate that some $55M was left on the table at the domestic B.O. with Dune (meaning a possible domestic opening of $95M).

However, the only questions with that calculation is a) how many people who watched Dune at home were going to skip seeing it in theater, and b) that calculation is based on one person per household watching this all-star ensemble of Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Rebecca Ferguson, Timothee Chalamet.

Understand that these day-and-date decisions to go hybrid are made well in advance, as contracts drag on in compensating talent. Even as the domestic box office made a turnaround with Shang-Chi over Labor Day weekend, Warners couldn’t just put Dune back on a pure theatrical window path. The studio sold subscriptions off of Dune being part of the HBO Max 2021 lineup, and to put the title squarely back in theaters would have resulted in consumer backlash and a potential legal conundrum.

Don’t worry, WarnerMedia isn’t going to get drunk on this distribution model: They’ve already committed to a 45-day theatrical window next year. Understand this is a great result for the current marketplace; no one in exhibition is complaining, as Dune caps off a robust month, and it shows that when people want to get out of the house and make time for the cinema, they do — even if it’s on HBO Max.

Sure, yes, the drops on Warner/HBO Max films are steep in weekend 2. If Warner Bros. can pull a rabbit out their hat and get Dune to $100M in the US and Canada, like they did with Godzilla vs. Kong, I’m sure they’ll think it’s a job well done in addition to what they pull in overseas.

Dune‘s success will be spelled over the long road: Dune is a film, like George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (which was also a very expensive movie at $185M net before P&A, and topped out at $375.7M WW) which is poised to be in the running this awards season. Fury Road notched six Oscars, including nominations for Best Director and Best Picture, and a spin-off is set to shoot and become the biggest production Australia has ever seen next year, with Furiosa. Not to mention, WarnerMedia executives have talked up a Dune 2.

Zendaya arrives for Venice Film Festival world premiere of ‘Dune’ - Credit: AP
Zendaya arrives for Venice Film Festival world premiere of ‘Dune’ - Credit: AP

AP

Warner Bros. knew they had a great epic on their hands with Dune, and began screening this film immediately at the end of August to awards voting members and press. They world- premiered the movie at Venice, and then at TIFF. Heck, they were even dropping trailers for the movie back during the earlier part of the pandemic, just after Tenet debuted in theaters in August 2020. According to iSpot, Warners spent $13.3M in US TV spots from mid-Sept. 2020 to late July 2021, then another break, and re-started the campaign from August until now.

That TV spend is more than the $9.9M which Uni shelled out on Halloween Kills before opening, more than the $10.4M Sony spent on Venom: Let There Be Carnage, but under MGM’s TV ad spend of No Time to Die with $18.2M. The Dune TV campaign, according to iSpot, drew 813.6M impressions. Top networks airing Dune spots were NBC (31.3%), FOX (10.5%), ESPN (8.4%), CBS (6.2%). ABC (4.5%) across such shows as NFL (20.1%), Tokyo Olympics (17.8%), MLB (3.9%), The Voice (3.2%), Saturday Night Live (1.7%).

RelishMix says that Dune‘s social media across YouTube views, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram stood at 474.1M before opening, “2X the genre norm, fueled by re-starts of campaign — plus the effect of the well-activated cast at 41% of the reach.”

On Facebook, Warners took an organic approach to video engagement by posting 41 trailers and clips for 2.5M views, which began on Sept. 8, 2020, pausing and then rebooting 13 weeks ago. Over on YouTube, the eight videos have clocked a healthy 206.7M views and a viral rate twice the norm, too, at 40:1.

Added to the triangulation of WB Pictures at 57.8M and HBO Max at 4.1M is the robust Legendary studios’ social media universe of 2.4M, which saw strong activity with trailers in the wake of Godzilla vs. Kong and strong international engagement with an added set of five YouTube videos. Not only were the cast posting Dune materials, but below the line folks as well, i.e. composer Hans Zimmer with a #DuneMovieDuet challenge on TikTok. In the mix across YouTube are 21 Zimmer soundtrack components which were dropped 4 weeks ago on the Warner Bros’ WaterTower channel. DP Greig Fraser shot loads of stills seen on his Instagram to 68K fans mixed in with The Batman.

“Casting impact scores solid points at 199.2M, with 41% of the social media awareness with both Zendaya at 147.3M and Timothee Chalamet at 15.4M, who are off-the-charts in terms of fan engagement on their carefully timed posts of trailers, posters, and red carpet moments in the range of 2-7M likes per post,” says RelishMix.

“Impressively for Zendaya, while she has significant fashion deals, she still supports her film projects across her social network. Dune reunites Villeneuve with Dave Bautista at 15.1M after their journey in Blade Runner 2049. Also activated are Jason Momoa at 16.1M, Josh Brolin at 3M, Rebecca Ferguson at 402K and David Dastmalchian at 298K. Villeneuve is non-social,” adds the social media analytics corp.

Any fan starving for a Dune videogame, well, you can find it over on Fortnite, which the studio partnered with:

Dune demands to be seen in a theater, and 50% of the pic’s business came from Imax, Dolby Cinema, PLF, D-box and 3D. Imax theaters alone delivered $9M from 404 screens, a 22.5% marketshare of the pic’s B.O. this weekend, one of the biggest shares for the large format exhibitor.

Globally, it’s the biggest October opening weekend ever for Imax at $17.8M. Top five Domestic IMAX locations (including the 2‐day grosses so far) this weekend include: 1. TCL Chinese Theatre Hollywood $119,028, 2. AMC Lincoln Square NY $104,007, 3. AMC Metreon San Francisco $71,128, 4. Cineplex Scotiabank Toronto $63,958, and 5. Cineplex Banque Scotia Montreal $63,958.

The top 10 locations overall (including the 2‐day grosses so far) are: 1. AMC Lincoln Square NY $170,656, 2. TCL Chinese Theatre LA $128,390, 3. AMC Burbank LA $125,175, 4. AMC Metreon San Francisco $123,228, 5. Cineplex Cinema Banque Scotia Montreal $121,389, 6. AMC Empire NY
$103,948, 7. AMC Boston Common $99,302, 8. Regal Irvine Spectrum LA $96,485, 9. Cineplex Scotiabank Toronto $95,908, and 10. AMC Century City LA $86,397.

Chalamet celebrating the openings of Dune and Searchlight’s The French Dispatch this weekend:

. - Credit: Searchlight Pictures
. - Credit: Searchlight Pictures

Searchlight Pictures

And in a great result for arthouses, The French Dispatch from Wes Anderson scored the best theater average during the pandemic with $25K or $1.3M at 52 theaters in 14 markets. The theater average bests that of such event titles, Venom 2 at $21.3K per theater and Black Widow at $19.4K per theater. The movie, which made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, expands to 600 theaters in 60 markets next weekend.

“The French Dispatch is a jolt of electricity for the specialty box office, delivering record-breaking results in theaters across the country,” said Searchlight Pictures’ SVP-General Sales Manager Frank Rodriguez in a statement. “These figures show that after a year and a half, arthouse and independent theaters have a superhero of their own in Wes Anderson. What has been doubly encouraging is the crossover results in mainstream theaters hungry for Wes’ 10th film as well. We are thrilled that after several delays, moviegoers said it was worth the wait.”

Top theaters for French Dispatch included the Angelika in downtown Manhattan as the pic’s highest- grossing theatre in North America, nearing the $100K mark over three days and selling out numerous screenings. The Grove in Los Angeles took in $41,3K in the pic’s first two days, followed by the BAM in Brooklyn ($40,3K first two days) Alamo Brooklyn ($33K), AMC Lincoln Square in New York ($41K) and the Landmark West L.A ($35,4K).

Canada also saw an incredible turnout, particularly in the Varsity in Toronto ($29K first two days) and the Park in Vancouver ($22K). In polling, 83% of the audience considered themselves Anderson fans, higher than any number seen for The Grand Budapest Hotel and Isle of Dogs according to Searchlight.

Other takeaways from this weekend: Disney/20th Century Studios/Locksmith’s Ron’s Gone Wrong lived up to its title’s name at the weekend box office with an awful $7.3M. I mean, family movies that were purely theatrical and on PVOD day-and-date during the pandemic like Paw Patrol, Addams Family 2, and The Boss Baby: Family Business (day and date Peacock) and Space Jam 2 (day-date HBO Max) did substantially more business. Look for the great return of families at Thanksgiving with Disney Animation’s Encanto.

Michael Myers (aka The Shape, left) in Halloween Kills, directed by David Gordon green. - Credit: Universal
Michael Myers (aka The Shape, left) in Halloween Kills, directed by David Gordon green. - Credit: Universal

Universal

Also, many are in my ear about the -71% drop off of Halloween Kills in weekend 2, with $14.5M. Sure, we can blame some Peacock here. But I think the majority of the decline rests on the fact that the movie is a horror film, and everyone that needed to see it saw it opening weekend, and that B- CinemaScore screams that there was no reason to see it again, or even venture out to see the sequel in weekend 2. Not when you have a spectacle like Dune in the marketplace.

Comscore is reporting the total weekend B.O. at $95M, off 13% from last weekend. Total running B.O. for 2021 for Jan. 1 through Oct. 24 is $3 billion, 42% ahead of last year at the same point in time.

Top 10:

1.) Dune (WB) 4,125 theaters Fri $17.5M/Sat $13.7M/Sun $8.9M/3-day $40.1M/Wk 1

2.) Halloween Kills (Uni) 3,727 (+2) theaters Fri $4.5M/Sat $6.2M/Sun $3.7M/3-day $14.5M (-71%)/Total $73.1M/Wk 2

3.) No Time to Die (UAR) 3,807 (-600) theaters Fri $3.58M/Sat $5.2M/Sun $3.1M/3-day $11.9M (-50%)/Total $120M/Wk 3

4.) Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) 3,513 (-500) theaters Fri $2.45M/Sat $4.1M/Sun $2.5M/3-day $9.1M (-45%)/Total $181.8M/Wk 4

5.) Ron’s Gone Wrong (20th/Dis) 3,560 theaters, Fri $2.3M/Sat $3M/Sun $2M/3-day $7.3M/Wk 1

6.) Addams Family 2 (UAR) 2,907 (-700) theaters Fri $1.1M/Sat $2M/Sun $1.2M/3-day $4.3M (-39%)/Total $48.3M/Wk 4

7.) The Last Duel (20th/Dis) 3,065 theaters Fri $627K/Sat $864K/Sun $609K/3-day $2.1M (-55%)/Total $8.5M/Wk 2

8.) Shang-Chi (Dis) 1,600 (-700) theaters Fri $547K /Sat $936K/Sun $517K/3-day $2M (-39%)/Total $221M/Wk 8

9.) The French Dispatch (Sea) 52 theaters Fri $555K/Sat $452K/Sun $293K/3-day $1.3M/Wk 1

10.) Met Opera: Fire Shut Up in My Bones (Fathom) /Sat $610K/3-day $610K/Wk 1

Saturday AM: Dune posted the best opening day for a Warner Bros. theatrical/HBO Max day and date title with $17.5M. While Warners is calling the weekend currently at $33M, rivals believes it’s higher, in the high $30Ms range, which would also indicate a record weekend for a Warner/HBO Max title and filmmaker Denis Villeneuve as well.

The industry estimate for Saturday’s drop is around -30%. Hopefully, the HBO Max of it all doesn’t drag the movie further down, as US folks with HBO subscriptions discover they can watch Dune at home for free. Between Thursday and Friday, there was a significant amount of moviegoers who decided to see Dune at the last minute, with 67% of the crowd either buying their tickets the day of, or the day before.

Dune‘s Friday is bigger than that of Villeneuve’s previous sci-fi reboot, Blade Runner 2049, which saw a Friday of $12.6M, and also that of Legendary and Warner Bros. previous reteaming, Godzilla vs. Kong, which saw a Friday of $11.8M, that being the first of the studio’s tentpoles on HBO Max at Easter.

. - Credit: Warner Bros.
. - Credit: Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

After a month of rolling great opening weekends, Dune is a great cushion for exhibition to land on, as October winds down and we hand off to Disney/Marvel’s Eternals, which we’re hearing is expected to open to around $80M.

Again, it’s not really fair to the motion picture industry during the pandemic to crap on how expensive Dune was, with $300M between distribution and marketing costs at this point.

Very few films in a hobbled global marketplace are in the black. Read, Dune is up to $15.6M in its first two days in China via Legendary East, the No. 2 film in the market, and we understand that there’s a new outbreak of Covid 2019 across China, with at least eight provinces shut down partially or with entire cinema operations, including Xinjiang, Shanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Guizhou, Hebei and Inner Mongolia. Warners predicted a longer pandemic, and they were right, and played their chips with their film slate being hybrid with their streaming service. Warner Bros. returns its theatrical slate to a 45-day window next year.

Fantastic audience response here, with an A- CinemaScore, the same as Blade Runner 2049, and higher than Villeneue’s Arrival (B). Those 25 to 34 in CinemaScore exits loved this space movie about spice, set in the desert, giving it a solid A. Dune also notched 4 1/2 stars and 84% positive on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak, with a 66% definite recommend.

PostTrak shows that 44% went to see Dune because of the subject matter plot, while 43% watched it because it was a sci-fi movie. Since HBO Max isn’t in Canada, and Warner Bros kept it on a theatrical window, the pic is overindexing in Villeneuve’s homeland with an 11% share and three of the pic’s top ten runs.

In addition, Imax and PLFs are pulling in cinema diehards, delivering an awesome 52% of the gross currently. Imax alone racked up $4.1M to date. The West is also one of the best territories for Dune. Box office analytics corp Market EntTelligence reports that 2.3M people went to see Dune this weekend, with 40% of all moviegoers watching it in a premium format, vs. 22% of those who saw Venom: Let There Be Carnage (the pandemic’s biggest domestic opener at $90M) in a premium format at the same point in time.

Market EntTelligence also adds that regardless of daypart, moviegoers want to experience Dune in large format. Close to a third came out on Friday to see a large format show during the 7PM hour. Even more impressive is 14% came out before 3PM, and another 17% came out after 10PM. The occupancy rate during key evening hours was an impressive 50% nationally in large format, per the org, versus Warner/HBO Max’s The Suicide Squad, which had 21% of its seats filled.

Denis Villenueve and Rebecca Ferguson at the Deadline TIFF Studio this year. - Credit: Deadline
Denis Villenueve and Rebecca Ferguson at the Deadline TIFF Studio this year. - Credit: Deadline

Deadline

Both Warner Bros., Legendary and Villeneuve ultimately decided to keep this film theatrical and on HBO Max, despite the fact that the best destination for it is in cinemas. Villeneuve told us at TIFF: “The enemy right now is the pandemic…It is very difficult for theater owners, and it’s very difficult for everybody, and I did feel with Legendary that it was time to go out. We had postponed the movie for a year due to safety…It’s time to hit the road.”

After a year in which the studio bailed out the participants on its theatrical slate to a tune of billions, I believe WarnerMedia executives have come to the sober reality for their event titles that theatrical is still king, there’s a demand for it, and it’s best to have a window. Dune 2 deserves the theater-only experiment, and WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff told us Wednesday that a sequel is in store.

Interesting takeaway on PostTrak, of those who watched Dune in a theater, 30% said they’d watch it again in a theater, 17% will buy the movie on Blu-Ray, 15% said they plan to download it for free, 10% will purchase on iTunes, Amazon, while 8% will rent it digitally or on PVOD. Turns out, there is something to be said about windows working for consumers.

Demo turnout were Men over 25 (44%), Females over 25 (26%), Men under 25 (17%), and Females under 25 (13%), with guys under 25 giving the pic its best grade of 87% on PostTrak. Older demo here at 21% over 45, but also the moviegoing demo of 18-34 at 55% showing up. Diversity demos were 55% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic and Latino, 9% African American and 9% Asian.

The French Dispatch - Credit: Searchlight Pictures
The French Dispatch - Credit: Searchlight Pictures

Searchlight Pictures

Also, in a great win for arthouses, Searchlight’s pandemic- delayed Wes Anderson movie The French Dispatch is delivering a great weekend theater average of $30,6K, on its way to $1.59M at 52 theaters and 14 markets. I’m hearing solid numbers in NYC, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Austin, along with Philly, Boston, DC, Seattle, Denver, Toronto and Vancouver.

The pic is 74% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, down from the 92% certified fresh on Anderson’s previous live-action film, multi-Oscar winning 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel. Some of the top-grossing theaters for French Dispatch include NYC’s Angelika Film Center 6, AMC Grove in LA, BAM Rose Cinema in NYC, AMC Lincoln Square, The Landmark in LA, and AMC Burbank. Disney reports that French Dispatch racked up $555K last night.

20th Century Studios’ Ron’s Gone Wrong was always expected to tank, now at $6.9M. This says nothing about reluctant family audiences during the pandemic. Rather, there was nothing about this delayed 20th title that screamed event film. Period.

Top 10

1.) Dune (WB) 4,125 theaters Fri $17.5M/3-day $33M/Wk 1

2.) Halloween Kills (Uni) 3,727 (+2) theaters Fri $4.5M (-80%)/3-day $14.2M (-71%)/Total $72.8M/Wk 2

3.) No Time to Die (UAR) 3,807 (-600) theaters Fri $3.58M (-50%)/3-day $11.9M (-50%)/Total $120M/Wk 3

4.) Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) 3,513 (-500) theaters Fri $2.45M (-46%)/3-day $8.8M (-47%)/Total $181.5M/Wk 4

5.) Ron’s Gone Wrong (20th/Dis) 3,560 theaters, Fri $2.3M/3-day $6.9M/Wk 1

6.) Addams Family 2 (UAR) 2,907 (-700) theaters Fri $1.1M (-40%), 3-day $4.2M (-40%)/Total $48.1M/Wk 4

7.) The Last Duel (20th/Dis) 3,065 theaters Fri $627K (-67%)/3-day $2M (-58%)/Total $8.5M/Wk 2

8.) Shang-Chi (Dis) 1,600 (-700) theaters Fri $547K (-40%)/3-day $1.93M (-42%/Total $220.9M/Wk 8

9.) The French Dispatch (Sea) 52 theaters Fri $555K/3-day $1.59M/Wk 1

10.) Honsla Rakh (WHS) 75 theaters (-6) Fri $132K (-31%)/3-day $490K (-31%)/Total $1.8M/Wk 2

Legendary/Warner Bros’ “Dune” - Credit: Warner Bros
Legendary/Warner Bros’ “Dune” - Credit: Warner Bros

Warner Bros

UPDATED Friday midday: Currently, Legendary/Warner Bros’ Dune is seeing a Friday between $16 million-$17 million at 4,125 theaters, including last night’s previews, which means a domestic opening between $30M-$32M. While rival studios have it much higher at $40M-plus, understand that the unpredictable nature of the gross is deciphering how frontloaded its Friday is; as well as the HBO Max availability of it all.

Imax ticket sales are leading the charge for Dune, looking at a 22%-24% share of the weekend box office. Anything above Godzilla vs. Kong‘s $31.6M opening weekend means it’s a record domestic debut for a Warner Bros movie during the pandemic, and the top start for a day-and-date theatrical HBO Max release. Anything north of $32.8M means it’s a record opening for director Denis Villeneuve.

Solid PostTrak for Dune so far with 4 stars out of 5. Males, natch, are out in force at 62%, and 72% over 25. Diversity demos are 59% Caucasian, 20% Latino and Hispanic, 6% African American, 9% Asian and 6% other. A global gross at the end of the day north of $300M for Legendary and Warners will make them content, even if it’s not at breakeven, and let’s be realistic: How many movies are really profiting in this current marketplace?

WarnerMedia brass told Deadline in a sit-down Wednesday that it will be some years before they release viewership data on how their fare strictly does on HBO Max; global growth is needed before there’s an industry apples-to-apples measurement. A sequel to Dune is for certain, and Warner Bros executives will evaluate this weekend’s success not just in global ticket sales, but also how the movie does on HBO Max. To date, per Samba TV, which clocks HBO Max viewership in Smart TV terrestrial households, New Line’s Mortal Kombat owns the title as the most watched theatrical/HBO Max film in a debut weekend with 3.8M U.S. households followed by Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong with 3.6M over five days. WarnerMedia has told us, without providing numbers, that GvK was the most-watched first weekend for a theatrical title on HBO Max.

. - Credit: Universal
. - Credit: Universal

Universal

In second place this weekend is Universal/Miramax/Blumhouse’s Halloween Kills with a $5M second Friday, down 78%, and a second weekend of $15.8M at 3,727 locations, off 68%, for a 10-day total of $74.4M. The 2018 version of Halloween fell 59% in its second weekend.

MGM/UAR’s No Time to Die is third in its third weekend with $4M today, -44%, a third weekend of $14M at 3,807 cinemas, -41%, and a running total by end of Sunday of $122.1M.

Fourth belongs to Sony/Marvel’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage with a fourth Friday of $2.6M, -43%, weekend of $9.5M, -42%, and running total of $182.2M. It is currently booked at 3,513 sites.

Disney/20th Century Studio’s Ron’s Gone Wrong at 3,560 theaters is seeing an estimated first Friday of $1.9M for a first weekend at $6M.

. - Credit: Warner Bros
. - Credit: Warner Bros

Warner Bros

PREVIOUSLY, Friday AM: Legendary and Warner Bros’ sci-fi epic Dune excavated $5.1 million from 6 p.m. showtimes at 3,200 theaters Thursday. The Denis Villeneuve-directed adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel was also made available on HBO Max streaming service as early as 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET.

In China, Legendary East is reporting a $6.5M opening day for Dune at 10,500 cinemas, a total of 28,274 screens. The pic is ranking as the No. 2 title in the market with a 34.3% share of the box office for the day.

That figure bests the pre-pandemic take of Villeneuve’s previous sci-fi spectacle, 2017’s Blade Runner 2049, which saw $3.5M from 7 p.m. showtimes on its way to a $12.5M Friday and $32.8M opening — the director’s best domestic start.

Tracking estimates for Dune are in the $30M-$35M range. Advance ticket sales indicate a number much higher, but we’ll need today and into Saturday to see how front-loaded business is as these day-and-date films have a tendency to bring the fans out first, before the general audience decides its not going to the cinema.

Dune‘s Thursday figure also beats the $4.1M made by Warner Bros/HBO Max’s The Suicide Squad, which began previews at 7 p.m. and turned in a $12.1M Friday, and $26.2M opening weekend; the second-best for an R-rated movie during the pandemic. Dune‘s also bested Halloween Kills, which did $4.85M. That R-rated movie was available day-and-date on the subscriber-paid tier of Peacock, but that didn’t seem to dilute the box office as it posted a $22.8M Friday, $49.4M opening weekend. It’s a different case with Dune and HBO Max since the service has a bigger penetration than Peacock.

The movie, which has 73 minutes shot in Imax cameras, is overperforming in the large format exhibitor’s auditoriums, driving 30% of last night’s box office. Note, in Canada, Dune is on a pure theatrical window since the country doesn’t have HBO Max yet.

Four hundred two Imax screens delivered $1.5M yesterday. The figure marks a new wide-release indexing record for Imax on a Thursday night in North America, topping Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk ($1.59M/28.9% of a total $5.5m in July 2017).

Abroad, 17 Imax screens in South Korea delivered 21% of opening day grosses on Wednesday, compared with 5-6% for Shang-Chi and No Time to Die.

In the UK, 50 Imax screens delivered 21% of the pic’s opening day on Thursday, compared to 8% on No Time to Die and 9% for Shang-Chi.

Last weekend, 37 IMAX screens in Japan yielded 37% of the opening weekend total, compared with 16% for Bond 25.

Early word in China today, Friday, is that Imax screens rep 21% of the opening day total for Dune.

Disney/20th Century Studios’ Ron’s Gone Wrong grossed an estimated $240K last night off previews that started at 6PM. Pic opens at 3,560 theatres, currently holding a strong 80% Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score. The animated movie is looking at $8M-$10M.

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