“Dune,” the dazzling big-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel, ignited the international box office in its debut, collecting $35.8 million from 24 overseas markets. It’s a promising start given the hobbled state of moviegoing in many foreign territories amid the pandemic.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya and Oscar Isaac, “Dune” ranked No. 1 in most international markets and had the strongest turnout in Russia with $7.6 million from 2,100 screens, followed by France ($7.5 million from 892 screens), Germany ($4.9 million from 900 screens) and Italy ($2.6 million from 740 screens). Given its ambitious special effects, it’s no surprise that many audience members opted to watch “Dune” on premium screens. Imax accounted for $3.6 million of this weekend’s ticket sales, representing roughly 10% of the movie’s total box office revenues.
Internationally, many countries still have capacity restrictions in place and some areas, including France, Italy and Germany, have required patrons to have vaccine passports to go to the movies. At the same time, Korea, Japan, Australia and the majority of Southeast Asia reinstated stricter lockdown measures, meaning most multiplexes have been forced to close and those given permission to stay open have reduced hours of operation. In a positive sign for its big-screen prospects, “Dune” has finally secured a release date in China at a time when several Hollywood movies haven’t been able to play in the world’s biggest movie market. The film will debut in China on Oct. 22.
“Dune,” the $165 million-budgeted space epic from Warner Bros. and Legendary, isn’t opening in the U.S. until Oct. 22, when it will land simultaneously on HBO Max. Villeneuve was initially upset about the decision to put the movie, one that he says has been engineered to be seen on the big screen, on digital platforms on the same day as its theatrical release, but the director eventually came around to the hybrid strategy. One reason “Dune” is premiering in North America so much later than the rest of the world is in an effort to curb piracy.
Elsewhere at the international box office, Clint Eastwood’s Western drama “Cry Macho” (also from Warner Bros.) crumbled in its debut, collecting a muted $350,000 from 18 foreign markets and 585 screens. The $33 million-budgeted film also fell flat in North America, where it premiered day-and-date on HBO Max, resulting in a global tally of $4.8 million.
“Dune” wasn’t the only Hollywood movie to entice international audiences. Disney’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” had another strong showing in theaters, pulling in $20.3 million from 43 overseas territories over the weekend. The Marvel superhero adventure, starring Simu Liu and Awkwafina, has generated $143 million internationally and $176 million domestically, bringing its worldwide total to $320 million. After three weeks of release, “Shang-Chi” already stands as the fourth-highest grossing movie of the year.
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