The key word here is theatrical. We understand that a key point of negotiations between Legendary and Warner Bros was that Dune: Part Two would be given a pure theatrical window; no day-and-date HBO Max release plan is in the mix for this cinema spectacle.
The greenlight news was announced Tuesday on the Legendary and WB social accounts:
This is only the beginning…
— Legendary (@Legendary) October 26, 2021
While David Lynch’s 1984 feature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 412-page 1965 novel crammed the whole story into one movie, it was always part of Villeneuve’s vision to spread his reboot across two films.
“I just received news from Legendary that we are officially moving forward with Dune: Part Two,” the filmmaker said. “It was a dream of mine to adapt Frank Herbert’s Dune, and I have the fans, the cast, and crew, Legendary and Warner Bros. to thank for supporting this dream. This is only the beginning.”
Dune overperformed its domestic projections this past weekend, opening to $41 million, with over half of its ticket sales driven by large-format and PLF theaters. Heading into the weekend we’d heard that Dune had some $12M in advance tickets sales; more than any other event film during the pandemic. The pic was bolstered further by Canada, which delivered 11% of domestic weekend ticket sales; it was on a theatrical window up there since HBO Max isn’t available in the country.
In regards to its performance on HBO Max, while WarnerMedia didn’t report any figures, Samba TV — which measures streaming viewership in 3 million U.S. households — reported that 1.9M Smart TV households watched Villeneuve’s Dune over the weekend. Among the theatrical/HBO Max titles measured by Samba TV, that’s the sixth-best weekend debut by a Warner Bros/HBO Max day-and-date title, Mortal Kombat topping that list with 3.8M.
All of this is a great indicator that those who wanted to watch Dune saw it in a movie theater. Warner Bros launched the movie ahead in overseas markets, where its current global box office stands at $223.2M.
“Denis Villeneuve has crafted a film that is both visually extraordinary and emotionally transporting, as evidenced by its global success both critically and at the box office,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman of Warner Bros Picture Group. “We are thrilled to continue on this journey with Denis and his cast and crew, and our partners at Legendary, and can’t wait to bring the next chapter of this epic tale to theaters in October 2023.”
WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff told Deadline in a sit-down last week that a Dune sequel was definitely in the cards, with Legendary carrying 80% of the production cost and Warners the balance.
“Legendary is pleased to officially move forward with Dune: Part Two … once again based on the amazing books written by Frank Herbert,” said Legendary. “We would not have gotten to this point without the extraordinary vision of Denis and the amazing work of his talented crew, the writers, our stellar cast, our partners at Warner Bros., and of course the fans! Here’s to more Dune.”
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