‘Dune’ to Set New Box Office Record for Denis Villeneuve With $33 Million-Plus Launch

Sci-fi epic would also set a new best opening for Warner Bros.’ HBO Max day-and-date experiment

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros./Legendary’s “Dune” is on course to set a new career box office record for director Denis Villeneuve. After grossing $17.5 million from 4,125 locations on Friday, industry estimates have the sci-fi epic earning a $39 million opening weekend while Warner Bros. is estimating a $33 million start in keeping with the film’s pre-release $30-35 million projection range.

Either figure would top the $32.8 million launch of Villeneuve’s last film, “Blade Runner 2049,” and would also be the best opening weekend for Warner Bros. this year as it releases all of its films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. The previous high was set by “Godzilla vs. Kong” with $31.7 million back in March. Imax, which is giving the film full support, accounted for $4.2 million of the film’s Friday grosses.

Oscar buzz and critical praise has surrounded “Dune” since its Venice Film Festival premiere, and now it has won over fans of Frank Herbert’s classic novel with an A- on CinemaScore and a 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes to go with an 83% critics score.

What’s particularly interesting about the CinemaScore age demographic breakdown is that 54% of the opening night audience for “Dune” is in the 18-35 demographic. That may be one reason why Universal/Miramax/Blumhouse’s “Halloween Kills” has taken a steep drop in its second weekend with just $4.5 million grossed on Friday and a weekend total of $14.2 million. That’s a 71% drop from the horror film’s $49.4 million opening last weekend, greater than the 58% drop taken by the previous “Halloween” in 2018.

Between the crowded nature of the October slate and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, films have been left competing for younger audiences for much of their revenue this month. MGM’s “No Time to Die,” which has been trying to find its own lane with older moviegoers comfortable to return to theaters, is estimated to earn $12 million in its third weekend, putting it at around $120 million in domestic grosses as it is set to join “F9” as the second Hollywood release to gross over $500 million worldwide this year.

Sony/Marvel’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is in fourth with an estimated $8.8 million in its fourth weekend, giving it a total of $181 million as it draws closer to joining fellow Marvel movie “Shang-Chi” as the second film to cross $200 million domestic this year.

Completing the top 5 is 20th Century’s “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” which entered the box office on 3,560 screens and is estimated to earn a $7 million opening. Reception has been strong for the film with an 80% Rotten Tomatoes score to go with an A on CinemaScore and a 97% audience score.