Dune records strong box office opening despite HBO Max streaming release

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Dune records strong box office opening despite HBO Max streaming release
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Denis Villeneuve’s new sci-fi epic Dune debuted with $40.1 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend in North America, despite it also being available to stream online.

The film, which stars Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya, was released simultaneously in cinemas and on HBO Max, raising questions about how it would fare at the box office.

Director Villeneuve vehemently protested against the duel streaming release, telling Variety last year: “I strongly believe the future of cinema will be on the big screen, no matter what any Wall Street dilettante says.”

Dune marks the best domestic opening for any of Warner Bros’s hybrid releases to date, surpassing the $31.7m debut of Godzilla vs. Kong in March.

“This was a tremendous result as we’re ramping out of the pandemic,” said Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warner Bros.

“Once we get out of the pandemic, if we have a movie like this, clearly you’d want to go into theatres first. There’s no question of that.”

Goldstein estimated the film would have debuted with approximately 20% more at the box office had it not also been streaming simultaneously.

Coming into the weekend, Dune, which first premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, had already grossed $130m internationally.

The film, which chronicles which chronicles a violent power shift on the desert planet Arrakis, is the second big-screen attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s 1965 epic, following David Lynch’s 1984 version.

The Independent’s chief film critic, Clarisse Loughrey, gave Dune five stars, calling it “a film of such literal and emotional largeness that it overwhelms the senses”.

Additional reporting by AP

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