Thursday, June 13, 2024

‘Dune: Part Two’ to See $170M Global Opening: Box Office

We’ve been waiting for this one for quite some time.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ Dune: Part Two opens this weekend in what’s a much-needed jolt of testosterone for the box office that’s been winded by the dual strikes’ delay of titles. To date, the annual 2024 domestic box office hasn’t cracked a billion yet with only $866.3M through Sunday, -18% behind the Jan. 1-Feb. 25 frame a year ago. The second part to the multi-Oscar winning Denis Villeneuve 2021 feature take of the Frank Herbert classic novel could very well see a $170M worldwide opening — that’s divided into $85M$90M abroad and another $80M on the high end in U.S./Canada (Warners is conservatively projecting $65M, but most exhibitors and tracking services see near $80M).

Content is king. Dune: Part Two at $190M was largely financed by Legendary, however, Warner Bros. does have a double digit low stake in the pic. Warners will get a small share of the box office and also a distribution fee. Warner Bros spent on global marketing in a campaign steered by Warner marketing guru Josh Goldstine; monies which will be recouped in the downstream waterfall. Still, the afterglow will give some shine to the beleaguered David Zaslav-run Warner Bros Discovery with its $8.60 share price (at the time of this report), which could hopefully uptick next week. The conglom’s latest Q4 softened by strikes and a dull ad marketplace. However, Zaslav, promised “We have an attack plan for 2024” and that includes “a more robust creative pipeline across our film and TV studios”. Well, here come the sandworms.

Note that $65M-$80M domestic opening will be wonders above the $41M domestic opening of 2021’s Dune which saw its ticket sales siphoned by a theatrical day-and-date release on streaming service HBO Max back in early October that year. Still Dune is one of a handful of day-and-date titles to cross $100M at the domestic box office, and only one of two along with Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong to cross $400M-plus worldwide. It was one of the few blockbusters that worked both in homes and theaters, but it certainly left money on the table.

Caption: (L-r) STELLAN SKARSGÅRD as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and AUSTIN BUTLER as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release

Warner Bros.

That stateside confidence stems from advance ticket sales which lean greatly toward fanboys and premium formats like IMAX and PLF. Sources tell us that all in as of last Friday, Dune: Part Two has collected $18M in advance ticket sales ($11.5M of that from the top three circuits). Fandango counts around 200K which is just under where Jurassic World: Dominion ($145M opening) and ahead of Oppenheimer ($82.4M). Dune: Part Two‘s advance sales are also in line with Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3. However, industry sources aren’t getting over their skis: While these types of presales indicate a $100M-plus opening on Dune: Part Two, the challenge is that non-premium sales are OK on the Zendaya, Timothee Chalamet, Austin Butler and Florence Pugh space opera. That’s what’s currently pulling down estimates to $80M vicinity stateside.

But there’s even more indicators for Dune: Part Two to overperform: The movie has excellent reviews at 97% certified fresh versus the first movie’s 83% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with critics from the Los Angeles Times heralding “An instant landmark of its genre” and the New York Post beaming, “Our blockbuster drought is over, thanks to a brilliant sequel set on a sweltering desert planet.”

Dune: Part Two is booked at 4,050 theaters in U.S./Canada with 3,400 locations going on Thursday previews. Already, last Sunday yielded $2M from an Imax Fans First Event which will be rolled up into Thursday’s number. The movie will be playing in every premium format i.e. Screen X, Dolby, D-Box, the list goes on.

Dune: Part Two begins overseas rollout on Wednesday, starting in France, Korea, Italy and Scandinavia. Thursday adds 42 markets including Germany, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and all of Latin America. On Friday, Spain and the UK join play to round out a total international launch in 71 markets.

As far as that $85M-$90M overseas opening goes, there’s of course wiggle room. We are looking at a movie that’s been saddled with a sort of savior badge, but which can also skew to adults meaning the need to see — despite little new in recent weeks – could mean a slower burn. Still, with Zendaya and her otherworldly outfits gracing red carpets around the globe, the play here abroad versus the first film is hoped to be slightly younger, and that could be cause for bigger numbers. Here in U.S./Canada, we’re hearing that Dune: Part Two is heavily male (the first film drew 61% dudes).

In like-for-like markets, the 2021, Dune grossed $52.5M abroad at open and at today’s exchanges. Back then, Warners released the film into a select group of markets after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, and then held some back to get away from James Bond movie No Time to Die. Recall that we were living in a very different world at the time. Covid was still raging in some areas and there was also that pesky domestic day-and-date Max release that made it imperative that international get out ahead to avoid piracy.

Other comps we’re hearing are Ready Player One at $53M in today’s rates, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One with $85M on its pure opening weekend and Warner’s 2022 The Batman which released on the comparable weekend to Dune: Part Two with $109M in like-for-likes at today’s rates. For reference in terms of the IMAX of it all, Oppenheimer opened to $114M in the same markets at today’s rates.

Although Dune: Part Two doesn’t release in China until March 8, the first movie is rereleasing this coming weekend in an effort to stoke interest. Dune: Part One has similarly rereleased in about 60 markets leading up to this weekend. For Part Two, Japan joins on March 15 and the Middle East (save for the UAE and Lebanon which go this weekend) on April 11. Part of the Middle East will be in previews for seven days from this week, then will go dark during Ramadan before officially opening on April 11.

A series of offshore fan event screenings were held in such locales as Mexico City, Paris and Seoul with the official world premiere taking place in London on February 15.

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