BO Report: ‘Dune: Part Two’ starts at $9.1m

'Dune: Part Two'. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

Dune: Part Two has delivered cinemas their first blockbuster hit of 2024, with the sci-fi sequel posting the highest opening weekend of any film released since last July’s Barbie and Oppenheimer.

Warner Bros. launched the 2-hour, 45-minute epic on 741 screens to $8.6 million, or $9.1 million with previews. It is easily the best opening result for a Denis Villeneuve title in this market, with the previous record held by the first film, which started at $4.8 million. It is also the largest start for any film starring Timothée Chalamet.

While nearly doubling the original’s opening weekend, broad comparisons between the two films are are hard to make; the first launched at the end of 2021 following extensive cinema closures in both NSW and Victoria, and off the back of a subdued North American theatrical release due to a day and date start on HBO Max.

Stateside, Dune: Part Two started at $US81.5 million, meaning the Aussie result is slightly ahead, pro-rata. The film has been released in 71 markets so far, with China and Japan still to come. It proved no. 1 in 67 of them, with global figures at $US178.5 million. Australia is currently the fifth best international market behind the UK, France, Germany and Korea.

According to data from the Vista Group, 67 per cent of Dune: Part Two moviegoers were male. The 25-34 year-old demographic made up the majority of moviegoers at 28 per cent, with the second highest 45-54 year-olds at 24 per cent. Some 57 per cent of attendees were infrequent moviegoers, that is those who had gone to the movies less than twice in the last six month.

IMAX Melbourne was Australia’s leading venue, with IMAX Sydney ranked third; together they had a 5.1 per cent share.

Jeremy Fee, IMAX Melbourne general manager, tells IF the venue sold more than 25,000 tickets, with back-to-back sold-out sessions for both the IMAX 1570 Film and 4K Laser versions.

“We’re proud that our single-screen is leading Australian box office results and are anticipating a long, successful season of Villeneuve’s fantastic sequel,” he says.

Village Entertainment head of content Geoff Chard calls the opening “incredible”, also predicting a long run. Its customers had a preference towards premium experiences such as Gold Class and Vmax.

“The WOM of mouth on the film is through the roof, as evidenced by the Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 95 per cent, and 9/10 on IMDb, so we are expecting really good holds into weeks 2 and 3, especially given the public holiday in some states this coming weekend,” he says.

One of the few venues to screen the sequel in 70mm, Sydney’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace proved among country’s the top independent sites.

“Unquestionably the opening was helped along by running the film in the 70mm format and I expect it to hold well given the excellent word of mouth and reviews,” GM Alex Temesvari tells IF.

Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly agrees that word of mouth is outstanding for the film, predicting a lengthy run.

“We expect that Nova’s final box office tally to be far in excess of the 2021 release. Cinema Nova was the third highest grossing location nationally at the end of the first film’s theatrical run,” he says.

Little else stood a chance alongside Dune: Part Two; the film had a 69 per cent market share, and no other title even cracked $600,000. Numero data puts the top 20 titles at $11.8 million, or 86 per cent up on the previous.

However, not every exhibitor was entirely effusive about the film, with Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell noting that while it was a boost to the box office nationally, it was less so in regional areas when compared to metro sites.

“Sci-fi movies tend to attract a younger crowd, which doesn’t suit our demographics as much. By contrast, we found that Bob Marley and Force of Nature continued to hold well for us with our older audiences,” he says.

“We expect Dune: Part Two will hold well for the next couple of weeks, without a lot of competition for screen space and patron dollars, and we envisage word of mouth for this amazing film may attract an older audience over the weeks who are curious to check it out but don’t rush out opening week.”

The only other new release to crack the top 10 was Indian Malayalam-language survival thriller Manjummel Boys, which Cyber Systems launched on 40 screens for $255,205, a very healthy average of $6,380. The result was enough to see it land in fifth position between Force of Nature: The Dry 2 and Baghead.

Bob Marley: One Love was the second choice of most moviegoers, with the film generating $591,713 through its third frame; a 54 per cent dip. The Paramount biopic’s total gross to date is $5.7 million.

Of the other holdovers, Madame Web drew $366,909 through its third weekend, moving to $4.2 million for Sony.

Robert Connolly’s local mystery Force of Nature, distributed by Roadshow, is now at $6.6 million after four weekends, having brought in an additional $307,227.

Studiocanal’s British horror Baghead eased by 40 per cent in its sophomore outing to $203,784, moving to $706,791.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To the Hashira Training took a substantial second weekend hit, with the Sony anime dropping by 75 per cent to $197,712, bringing its tally to $1.1 million.

Universal’s Argylle also took quite a dive, down 68 per cent to $172,730, with the spy actioner now at $6.2 million.

By comparison, Oscar hopeful The Zone of Interest held fairly well for Madman through its second weekend, easing by 38 per cent to $161,965, moving to $667,343.

Rounding out the top 10 was the Energizer bunny of rom-coms, Sony’s Anyone But You, which posted $147,381 in its tenth weekend to move to $22.2 million.

Australian animation Combat Wombat: Back to Back 2 premiered in 14th spot, with Maslow Entertainment starting the film wide on 175 screens, capturing $87,861.

Other local titles in release include The Rooster, which remains just in the top 50, having made $56,183 for Bonsai Films after two weekends and festival screenings.

All Australian box office is via Numero.