DUNE $40M Is Best Theater/HBO Max Hybrid Debut; FRENCH DISPATCH Sets Indie Pandemic Record (BOX OFFICE)

Sci-fi epic DUNE scores domestically and internationally with an $87.7M weekend and $220M global tally so far.

Dune put its hand in the box (office) and, thankfully for Warner Bros, it wasn’t painful. Its $40.1 million opening weekend in North America is a respectable debut for a big budget tentpole released in these pandemic times.

What makes it particularly notable, however, is that Dune becomes the top earner of Warner Bros. 2021 slate that was simultaneously released on streamer HBO Max. The previous high mark was Godzilla vs. Kong, set back in March with $31 million.

While Dune‘s take falls short of last week’s “theater/streamer” hybrid mark of $50 million by Halloween Kills, the latter streams on Peacock, a platform with a significantly lower subscriber base than Dune‘s online home HBO Max. In other words, Dune is far more accessible at home than Halloween Kills, thus putting a much larger dent in its theatrical potential.

Overseas, where the cerebral sci-fi epic has already been playing for three weeks, Dune took in another $47.4 million to raise its overall global tally to $220 million. With a budget of $165 million and tens-of-millions more in advertising, it’s a good run so far and could secure a greenlight for the still-pending Dune: Part II that director Denis Villeneuve hopes to make.

Halloween Kills saw its receipts slashed to a distant second with $14 million, Daniel Craig‘s final Bond No Time To Die was third ($11.8M; $120M domestic total), Venom: Let There Be Carnage fourth ($9.1M; $181M domestic total), and animated newcomer Ron’s Gone Wrong opened at fifth with $7.4 million.

No Time to Die became only the second movie since the pandemic began to pass the $500 million mark worldwide. The first was F9: The Fast Saga, which ended its global run with $716M.

Meanwhile, the 10th feature film from twee auteur Wes Anderson made waves over the weekend in the indie world. The French Dispatch, an anthology piece inspired by the early days of The New Yorker magazine, soaked up $1.3 million on a mere 52 screens, giving a needed jolt to art house and specialty cinemas. (By contrast, Dune opened on over 4,000.)

French Dispatch‘s $25,000 per screen average sets a new pandemic box office record, indie or otherwise. It tops the $21,300 average set by Venom: Let There Be Carnage over its opening weekend three weeks ago. Anderson’s latest quirk-fest expands to 600 screens next weekend and then wider on November 4.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck medieval #MeToo tale The Last Duel continued to bomb. Director Ridley Scott‘s epic (budgeted at $100 million) only scraped together $609,000 on over 3,000 screens. That follows its disastrous open last weekend of a measly $4.5 million.

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