“Dune” — the science fiction epic from Warner Bros. — took in an estimated $40.1 million at the North American box office this weekend.
The total exceeded expectations that had the film earning about $30 million. It was also the largest opening for Warner Bros. this year and capped off a solid month for the movie theater industry.
The film, which has an all-star cast led by Timothée Chalamet, is based on the 1965 seminal science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, and fans of the book showed up for the new adaptation this weekend.
The opening numbers are also notable because many of those fans could have just stayed home and watched “Dune” on HBO Max, the streaming service from CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia. The film was available simultaneously in theaters and on the streaming platform this weekend.
“Dune” also found an audience worldwide, nabbing $220 million globally so far.
Away from the success of the film itself, “Dune” helped movie theaters end the month on a high note.
There was a lot of attention coming into October since it was the first month of the pandemic era that had a big film opening every week. And those big films led the way with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” and “Halloween Kills” blowing past expectations. “No Time to Die,” the latest James Bond film, also opened this month to much fanfare, but garnered a bit of a underwhelming response compared to Bond films of the past.
Yet, for films like “Dune” to have respectable showings this month was of importance to the overall health of the movie theater industry, which is still trying to get back on its feet while the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing.
“Although one weekend remains, ‘Dune’ caps off an historically symbolic October as the pandemic box office recovery continues,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com, told CNN Business. “Four consecutive weekends of $40 million-plus openings have provided the stability and observable trends which the movie industry has been looking for during other brief bright spots throughout the year so far.”
Robbins added that “challenges remain” but “the big picture takeaway provides significant encouragement heading into the holiday season and 2022.”
Now the industry looks to finish out 2021 with some heavy hitters on the lineup, including “Eternals,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” coming next month and “West Side Story,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “The Matrix Resurrections” coming in December.