‘Dune: Part Two’ and ‘Problemista’ Had the Year’s Best Box Office Openings

Liem Soeng

‘Dune: Part Two’ and ‘Problemista’ Had the Year’s Best Box Office Openings

“Dune: Part Two” (Warner Bros.) did its part to launch what needs to be a comeback March for theaters. With an estimated gross of $81.5 million in U.S./Canada on its first weekend — about double the initial “Dune” in October 2021 — Denis Villeneuve’s sequel had the best opening since “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” (at a higher average ticket price), “Barbie,” and “Oppenheimer” last July.

Meantime, A24’s “Problemista” with $140,000 in five New York/Los Angeles theaters ($28,000 per theater) had the best platform start since the holidays nearly a year after its SXSW premiere. Written and directed by Julio Torres, he also stars opposite Tilda Swinton in a comedy about an El Savadoran toy designer who must confront the vagaries of the New York art world.

Propelling “Dune 2” are premium formats with elevated prices, which provided 48 percent of the gross (23 percent from IMAX). The performance is a critical boost to the idea that an expensive sequel, boosted by visuals only fully experienced in theaters, can still find a big audience. This “Dune” cost a reported $190 million before marketing (with major funding from Legendary Entertainment), making a start at this level necessary.

Related Stories

Eddie Redmayne and Warren Beatty

With an A Cinemascore, and initial foreign results totaling $97 million (China and Japan yet to open), it positions Warner Bros. (as well as lead actor Timothée Chalamet) for two consecutive $500 million-plus worldwide films. These would be the only two since last summer (although two recent Chinese releases possibly achieved this).

Warners was smart to delay this release from last October, when the strikes made cast promotion impossible. The new date also came after “Wonka” confirmed Chalamet’s long-awaited elevation to front-line draw.

PROBLEMISTA, from left: Julio Torres, Tilda Swinton, 2023. ph: Jon Pack / © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection
“Problemista“Courtesy Everett Collection

“Dune: Part Two“

Cast is only one part of the “Dune” appeal and its demos are notably different from “Wonka.” Per Warners, “Dune: Part Two” drew an older (60 percent over 25), predominantly male (59 percent), and heavily white (65 percent) audience. “Wonka” was majority female, split about evenly between white and non-white, with a younger overall audience, particularly after opening weekend on its way to over $200 million domestic/$600 million worldwide.

With that, we have the first weekend over $100 million in 2024. It’s awfully close to outperforming the same weekend in 2023, ($114 million vs. $118 million), but it’s hampered by the lack of new films and by underperformance. Next weekend will have “Dune 2” and the opening of “Kung Fu Panda 4” (Universal) both likely to gross over $40 million, along with two other viable titles (“Imaginary” from Lionsgate and “Cabrini” from Angel). Year to date is 13 percent under last year.

Only one other top 10 title grossed above $4 million. At #2, “Bob Marley: One Love” (Paramount) added $7.4 million, nearing $83 million. It is at $146 million worldwide, but profit is not assured with a $70 million production cost plus marketing.

The third set of episodes from season 4 of the faith-based online series “The Chosen” (Fathom) placed fifth for the weekend with a four-day total of $3.9 million. Combined, the episodes grossed $23 million over the past month.

Among Top 10 second-weekend films, “Ordinary Angels” (Lionsgate) placed third, off 38 percent with $3.8 million. “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba — To the Hashira Training” (Sony), another episodic series showing in theaters, dropped 82 percent for #7 with $2.1 million.

“Perfect Days” Neon

Some key films did not report at all, including the second weekend of Oscar International Film nominee “Io Capitano” from Cohen and “The Taste of Things” from IFC. However, Wim Wenders’ “Perfect Days” (Neon), an International nominee still in limited release, grossed $480,000 in 271 theaters for $2.1 million total. “Oscar Shorts 2024” (Magnolia) added $330,000 in 258 theaters and is now over $2.5 million.

The weekend also saw boosts for most of the Best Picture nominees as the three top circuits presented their annual showcases AMC alone still refuses to recognize Netflix as a contender and omitted “Maestro.”

The Top 10

1. Dune: Part Two (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 79; Est. budget: $190 million

$81,500,000 in 4,071 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $20,020; Cumulative: $81,500,000

2. Bob Marley: One Love (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$7,430,000 (-45%) in 3,390 (-207) theaters; PTA: $2,192; Cumulative: $82,771,000

3. Ordinary Angels (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$3,850,000 (-38%) in 3,020 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,275; Cumulative: $12,561,000

4. Madame Web (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #4

$3,200,000 (-46%) in 3,116 (-897) theaters; PTA: $1,027; Cumulative: $40,442,000

5. The Chosen: Season 4 Episodes 7-8 (Fathom) NEW

$3,155,000 in 2,215 theaters; PTA: $1,431; Cumulative: $3,916,000

6. Migration (Universal) Week 11; Last weekend #5; also on PVOD

$2,500,000 (-13%) in 2,204 (-230) theaters; PTA: $1,134; Cumulative: $123,450,000

7. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba — To the Hashira Training (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$2,065,000 (-82%) in 1,949 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,060; Cumulative: $15,701,000

8. Wonka (WB) Week 12; Last weekend #7; also on PVOD

$1,735,000 (-29%) in 1,732 (-431) theaters; PTA: $1,002; Cumulative: $216,760,000

9. Argylle (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #6

$1,140,000 (-49%) in 2,283 (-777) theaters; PTA: $613; Cumulative: $43,960,000

10. The Beekeeper (MGM Amazon) Week 8 – Last weekend #9; also on PVOD

$1,115,000 (-43%) in 1,347 (-810) theaters; PTA: $517; Cumulative: $64,929,000

Other specialized and award-contending titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed. Metacritic scores and initial film festivals recorded.

Problemista (A24) NEW – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: South by Southwest 2023

$140,448 in 5 theaters; PTA: $28,090

Shayda (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW – Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Sundance 2023

$10,056 in 2 theaters; PTA: $5,028

Drive-Away Dolls (Focus) Week 2

$1,000,000 in 2,278 (-2) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $4,324,000

About Dry Grasses (Janus/Sideshow) Week 2

$19,000 in 6 (+3) theaters; PTA: $3,166; Cumulative: $41,057

They Shot the Piano Player (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2

$5,735 in 7 (+5) theaters; PTA: $819; Cumulative: $17,375

2024 Oscar Shorts (Magnolia) Week 3

$330,000 in 258 (-95) theaters; Cumulative: $2,521,000

Land of Bad (Variance) Week 3

$360,000 in 574 (-743); Cumulative: $4,365,000

Lisa Frankenstein (Focus) Week 4; also on PVOD

$125,000 in 294 (-1,072) theaters; Cumulative: $9,714,000

Perfect Days (Neon) Week 4

$480,000 in 271 (+18) theaters; Cumulative: $2,157,000

The Peasants (Sony Pictures Classics)

$15,581 in 30 (+21) theaters; Cumulative: $90,885

Origin (Neon) Week 7

$40,000 in 40 (-43) theaters; Cumulative: $4,608,000

The Teachers’ Lounge (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10

$18,552 in 55 (+23) theaters; Cumulative: $571,939

All of Us Strangers (Searchlight) Week 11; also on PVOD and Hulu

$41,000 in 205 (+180) theaters; Cumulative: $4,022,000

American Fiction (Amazon MGM) Week 12; also on PVOD

$350,641 in 480 (-122) theaters; Cumulative: $20,599,000

The Zone of Interest (A24) Week 12; also on PVOD

$204,022 in 584 (+213) theaters; Cumulative: $7,810,000

Poor Things (Searchlight) Week 13; also on PVOD

$410,000 in 550 (+10) theaters; Cumulative: $33,572,000

The Holdovers (Focus) Week 19; also on VOD and Peacock

$85,000 in 326 (+100) theaters; Cumulative: $20,188,000

Oppenheimer (Universal) Week 32; also on VOD and Peacock

$100,000 in 453 (+253) theaters; Cumulative: $329,128,000


Leave a Comment