“Dune,” an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, opened to $40 million at the North American box office. It’s a respectable start given the ongoing pandemic and the fact that “Dune,” like all Warner Bros. movies in 2021, premiered simultaneously on HBO Max, which might have taken a chunk out of overall ticket sales.
Directed by Oscar nominee Denis Villeneuve (“Blade Runner 2049” and “Arrival”) and starring Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac and Josh Brolin, “Dune” is the first chapter in an expected two-part saga. Villeneuve and the cast of the movie have said they would like to make the follow-up to complete the story about warring political dynasties that clash over access to a vital planet. Will ticket sales to start be enough to justify a sequel? Given the film’s hefty price tag, including the millions spent to market it as a cinematic event, it’s unclear if box office revenues alone will be enough to warrant a return to the desert land of Arrakis. “Dune” will have to perform very well on HBO Max to convince the studio it should inject another $165 million to complete the star-studded interplanetary tale. Legendary Pictures co-financed “Dune” in addition to producing and developing the movie.
In an interview with Variety this week, WarnerMedia Chair Ann Sarnoff said plans for the sequel will be based on “the entirety of what ‘Dune’ can do for the company, including HBO Max.” “The story in itself sets up for a sequel. The production is so amazing and the storytelling is so compelling that it’s not going to be judged on box office alone,” Sarnoff said.
More to come….