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Dune 2's impressive box office performance sees it surpass first movie

rebecca ferguson, dune part two
Has Dune 2 been a box-office hit?Warner Bros.

Dune: Part Two was already the highest-grossing movie of the year after its opening weekend of nearly $180 million worldwide.

It sounds impressive until you realise that there hadn't really been any blockbuster releases before Dune 2 arrived. Argylle and Madame Web performed as poorly as expected (neither movie has hit $100 million yet), leaving The Beekeeper, Mean Girls and Bob Marley: One Love to bring audiences into the cinema.

But any doubt that the sequel was going to be a box-office hit has evaporated with its strong second weekend. It may have lost the US domestic crown to Kung Fu Panda 4, but reigns supreme worldwide with $128 million.

So let's dig into the numbers to assess just how big a success Dune 2 has been – and how big it could possibly go.

javier barden, dune part two
Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros

After two weekends in play, Dune 2 has grossed $157 million in the US and $210.5 million internationally, giving it a superb $367.5 million to date. It's comfortably the biggest movie of the year and the second highest-grossing movie so far of Denis Villeneuve's career.

Villeneuve's biggest movie to date is Dune, but that record won't last for much longer. Dune 2 has already surpassed Dune's final US haul of $110 million, and will soon overtake the first movie's global total of $434.8 million.

While Kung Fu Panda 4 will continue to draw the family crowd in the US, Dune 2 doesn't have any notable competition in its upcoming third weekend. That means you can expect a similarly decent hold (it dropped only 44.2% in the US), and for the movie to potentially approach $450 million – if not surpass it – by the end of next weekend.

A $1 billion result won't happen, but Dune 2 should finish its run near $650 million worldwide. It would mark a boost of around 50% on the first movie, a strong performance for an R-rated, dense sci-fi sequel.

So how has it managed to improve on the first movie?

timothee chalamet, zendaya, dune part two
Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros

It's worth noting that Dune was released in October 2021 when cinemas had only been open for a few months since the COVID shutdown. Spider-Man: No Way Home was a huge success in December 2021, but that was the exception rather than the rule.

In general, especially in the US, cinemagoing was down on typical levels. For Dune, this was further impacted by the controversial decision to release it on Max in the US on the same day as its cinema release.

So the sequel already surpassing the first movie domestically isn't a major surprise. It's no less impressive a performance though, especially when Dune 2 is also outperforming the first movie overseas, if not to the same level.

A key factor, as in most box-office success stories, is that the sequel has been lauded by critics and audiences alike. It stands at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes from critical reviews and 95% on audience score, as well as receiving an A CinemaScore in the US.

Good movies don't always lead to good box office though. What Dune 2 also has in its favour is that its acclaim has largely praised it for being a visual spectacle. Add in the exclusive cinema release compared to the day-and-date release of the US, and it becomes a true must-see at the cinema for movie fans.

dune part two
Warner Bros.

Delaying the sequel from its November 3, 2023 release date could also have proved to be a masterstroke from Warner Bros.

The actors' strike only ended on November 9, 2023 which would have meant nobody, except Denis Villeneuve, could have promoted the movie. Shifting it to March 2024 allowed the sequel's all-star cast, including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Austin Butler and Florence Pugh, to promote the movie on an extensive world promo tour.

Dune 2 probably didn't need more hype, but having some of the world's hottest young stars talking about the sequel certainly wouldn't have hurt it appealing to an audience that perhaps wouldn't have seen a near-three-hour, adult-skewing sci-fi in cinemas.

The perfect storm was completed by what we mentioned earlier. 2024 has been starved of genuinely exciting big releases, so Dune 2 felt like a breath of fresh spice air for cinephiles craving a true blockbuster experience.

It's all resulted in a performance so far that all-but guarantees Villeneuve will get to make Dune 3, which is another reason to celebrate the box-office success.

Dune: Part Two is out now in cinemas.

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