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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.