On a slower Halloween weekend box office, Warner Bros./Legendary’s “Dune” stayed No. 1 with $15.5 million in its second weekend, as four films from specialty distributors opened lower on the charts.
“Dune” now has a 10-day domestic total of $69.4 million and a global total of $292 million. Theatrical profits will be minimal for the film, particularly considering that the film’s full support from IMAX — which has accounted for $17 million of the film’s domestic gross — will end when “Eternals” is released on Friday.
But that hasn’t stopped Warner Bros. and Legendary from greenlighting a sequel for the Denis Villeneuve blockbuster with a release scheduled in October 2023. While Warner’s day-and-date release strategy is having some degree of impact on the film’s box office, its 62% weekend drop is better than for other major releases from the studio this year, like “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “The Suicide Squad,” both of which had second weekend drops of 70% after earning opening weekends of $25-26 million.
Warner Bros. is playing the long game with “Dune” in the belief that it will help increase streaming subscriptions as well as interest in “Dune: Part Two” when it comes out in a (hopefully) COVID-free market. With strong word-of-mouth and Oscar buzz, the film may have many months for audiences to discover it even if they don’t do so on the big screen. The decision to push forward on turning “Dune” into a franchise is an example of how box office numbers are now only a piece of a larger puzzle when determining a film’s profitability in the era of streaming.
Below “Dune,” four new films have entered the Top 10. The highest is Funimation’s “My Hero Academia: World Heroes Mission” in the No. 4 spot with an estimated $6.5 million opening from 1,600 locations. The third film based on the hit manga/anime series is slightly up from the $5.8 million launch for “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising” in February 2020 and continues Funimation’s recent success with bringing films from top anime franchises to American theaters.
In a tie for sixth on the charts are Focus Features’ “Last Night in Soho” and Searchlight’s “Antlers,” each with a $4.2 million opening total. Of the two horror films, “Soho” has had the stronger reception with a B+ on CinemaScore and Rotten Tomatoes scores of 73% from critics and 92% from audiences, compared to a C+ and a 61%/70% split for “Antlers.”
Completing the Top 10 is another Searchlight release, “The French Dispatch,” with $2.8 million from 788 locations. The Wes Anderson film expanded to 60 cities this weekend after posting the highest per-theater average of the year in just 14 cities last weekend. The film is set to expand nationwide this coming Friday.
Among holdovers, Universal/Blumhouse’s “Halloween Kills” had a better hold in its third weekend in theaters, ousting “Soho” and “Antlers” to be the top horror film of choice for audiences looking for seasonal scares. It stands at No. 2 this weekend with $8.5 million, bringing its domestic total to $85 million and its global total to $115 million.
In third is MGM’s “No Time to Die,” which added $7.8 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its total to $133 million domestically. Overseas, the Bond film earned a decent $28 million opening in China this weekend, though 13% of the country’s theaters are closed because of new COVID-19 outbreaks. With $59.7 million grossed worldwide this weekend, “No Time to Die” has now crossed the $600 million mark at the global box office with $605.8 million grossed, good for fifth highest this year.
Completing the Top 5 is Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” with $5.75 million for a domestic total of $190 million after five weekends. With $395 million grossed globally so far, the film will cross $400 million on Monday and is on pace to pass the $422 million global total of fellow Marvel film “Shang-Chi” this week. It is also pacing 13% ahead of “F9,” the highest grossing Hollywood release this year, in like-for-like markets.
As expected, overall box office grosses took a big hit this weekend, falling 31% to around $66 million. Analysts who spoke to TheWrap attribute this in part to would-be audiences spending Halloween away from the movies after having to spend the holiday at home last year during COVID lockdown.
But the other factor is a lack of major new releases, which always happens the weekend prior to a Marvel Studios film hitting theaters. Next weekend, “Eternals” is expected to get business going again with an opening north of $70 million, though its lukewarm 60% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes may be a sign of longterm problems for the Chloe Zhao blockbuster if audience reception is equally mixed.