Dune, the upcoming adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic novel, began its international box office run and had a strong debut at $35.8 million collected from 24 overseas markets. Considering all of the current circumstances, it's a strong start to the film's theatrical run before it debuts in the US next month.
Dune is directed by Denis Villeneuve and stars Timothee Chalamet, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, and Oscar Isaac. According to Variety, Dune became the number one film in most markets and "had the strongest turnout in Russia with $7.6 million from 2,100 screens, followed by France ($7.5 million from 892 screens), Germany ($4.9 million from 900 screens) and Italy ($2.6 million from 740 screens)." Many also wanted to see this extravagant film on the largest screen possible as "Imax accounted for $3.6 million of this weekend's ticket sales," representing about 10% of the movie's total box office revenue.
There are still many restrictions in place in many countries due to the pandemic that Dune's box office will have to overcome. In countries like France, Germany, and Italy, audience members are required to show proof of vaccination in order to attend. Some countries like South Korea and Australia have placed citizens under much stricter lockdowns that prevents them from going to theaters at all.
One large overseas market that will help Dune's box office is China and the movie successfully landed a release date in the country. Many Hollywood movies, including Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, haven't received theatrical runs in China. Dune will debut in China on Oct. 22, the same day as the US.
In the U.S., Dune's box office could suffer as the film will debut on HBO Max the same time as theaters. Villeneuve is accepting of the hybrid decision, however, he still believes Dune needs to be witnessed in a theaters as, according to him, watching Dune at home is like driving "a speedboat in your bathtub." Other films like The Suicide Squad and Space Jam: A New legacy have seen the HBO Max decision directly cut into their success at the box office. In addition, piracy is always an issue, especially with a film being released on streaming the same day as theaters.
However, Dune does have tremendous star power and maybe its incredibly epic scale will encourage people to go see it in theaters. Still, not everyone is fully comfortable going back to theaters yet.
In other box office news, Shang-Chi continues to do remarkably well at the box office considering the current situation, pulling in $20.3 million from 43 overseas territories. The Marvel superhero flick, starring Simu Liu, is now at a worldwide total of $320 million, making it the fourth-highest grossing film of the year so far.
October itself is a crowded month at the theaters with plenty of films such as Venom: Let There Be Carnage, No Time To Die, Halloween Kills, and Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho. Dune will be another amongst this crowd but the hype-level for it is exceedingly high. Dune is already receiving great reviews, so it'll be on plenty of people's watchlists when it comes to the US. This news originated at Variety.