‘Dune: Part Two’ Will Dust Off The Box Office With $170M Global Debut – Preview

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

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ Dune: Part Two opens this weekend to give a much-needed jolt of testosterone to a box office winded by the dual strikes’ delay of titles. To date, the annual 2024 domestic box office hasn’t cracked a billion dollars yet, with only $866.3M through Sunday, 18% behind the January 1-February 25 frame a year ago.

The second part to Denis Villeneuve’s multi-Oscar-winning 2021 feature take of the classic Frank Herbert 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 conservatively is projecting $65M, but most exhibitors and tracking services see near $80M.

RELATED: ‘Dune: Part Two’ First Reactions: Rave Reviews Topped By Critic Who Claims, “It’s The Definitive Sci-Fi Epic Of A Generation”

Content is king. Dune: Part Two at $190M largely was financed by Legendary, but Warner Bros. does have a low-double-digits stake in the pic. Warners will get a small share of the box office and also a distribution fee. The studio spent on global marketing in a campaign steered by its marketing guru Josh Goldstine, monies which that 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 hopefully could uptick next week. The conglom’s latest Q4 was softened by strikes and a dull ad marketplace. However, Zaslav promised that it will “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.

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Note that a $65M-$80M domestic opening would 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 one of only two to cross $400M-plus worldwide, along with Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong. 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

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.

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But there are even more indicators for Dune: Part Two to overperform: The movie has excellent reviews, at 97% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes versus the first movie’s 83%. A critic from the Los Angeles Times heralded “an instant landmark of its genre,” and the New York Post beamed, “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. The pic already has yielded $2M from an Imax Fans First Event on Sunday that 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.

RELATED: Domestic Box Office Expected To Drop By $1 Billion In 2024 Amid Fewer Films & Waning Moviegoer Sentiment. But 31 Tentpoles Provide Hope.

The sequel 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 the play to round out a international launch in 71 markets.

As far as that $85M-$90M overseas opening goes, there’s wiggle room, of course. We are looking at a movie that’s been saddled with a sort of savior badge also can skew to adults, meaning the need-to-see — despite little new in recent weeks — could lead to a slower burn. Still, with Zendaya and her otherworldly outfits gracing red carpets around the globe, the play 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.

RELATED: ‘Dune’ Director Denis Villeneuve Says A Third Film Screenplay Is Almost Finished As He Touts Upcoming Sequel

Other comps we’re hearing are 2018’s Ready Player One at $53M in today’s rates; last year’s 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 re-releasing this coming weekend in an effort to stoke interest. Dune: Part One similarly has re-released 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 starting 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 February 15 in London.

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