‘Dune 2’ Brings Spice Power to the Box Office with $81.5 Million Debut

Movie theaters were looking for a savoir and “Dune: Part Two” is delivering on the promise. Armed with sandworms, big screen spectacle and the star power of Timothée Chalamet, Denis Villeneuve ’s science fiction epic stormed the North American box office this weekend earning $81.5 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It’s the first major hit of 2024, and one that was sorely needed by exhibitors. Although there have been holdovers from December that have continued to earn, like Warner Bros.’ “Wonka” (also starring Chalamet) and Sony’s romantic comedy “Anyone But You,” the box office is in a bit of a drought. In the first two months of 2024, no films have crossed $100 million domestically. The highest earning movies have been “The Beekeeper,” “Bob Marley: One Love” and “Mean Girls.”

“Dune 2″ rode a wave of great reviews (94% on Rotten Tomatoes) into a marketplace that was essentially free of competition. Warner Bros. released it in 4,071 locations in the US and Canada, where audiences across the board gave it the highest PostTrak marks and an A CinemaScore. According to exit data, men accounted for 59% of opening weekend ticket buyers and 64% were over the age of 25. The sequel was primarily financed by Legendary.

Premium large format screens like IMAX and 70mm accounted for 48% of the opening weekend business. It marked a March record for IMAX, which made up $18.5 million of the overall take. The $81.5 million debut is a record for Villeneuve, Chalamet, Austin Butler and Rebecca Ferguson.

Originally planned for an October 2023 release, Warner Bros. bumped the movie to March amid the Hollywood strikes that would have prevented its starry cast from doing the promotional circuit.

The global promo tour has been on hyperdrive for about a month, driving conversations with buzzy interviews, the viral sandworm-inspired popcorn bucket and eye-popping fashion moments from the stylish young cast – peaking with Zendaya’s silver cyborg showstopper (vintage Mugler) in London. They’ve made stops in Mexico City, South Korea, Abu Dhabi and New York City.

The first “Dune” opened under complicated conditions in October 2021. It was one of the last films of Warner Bros.’ divisive plan to simultaneously debut its major movies in theaters and on its streaming platform. And yet it still earned over $40 million in its first weekend and went on to gross over $400 million worldwide.

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