The spice flows for Dune, the French dispatches all comers, Ron’s Gone OK, and Other Box Office News.
Well, let’s not bury the lede. Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part One, as the in-film title refers to it so it shall henceforth officially be known as going forward, made $40 million opening weekend. Whilst lower than all of the last three big #1 debuts – Halloween Kills last weekend with $49 million (and simultaneous VOD which’ll become important in a moment), No Time to Die the weekend before with $55 million, and BDE Venom: Let There Be Carnage with $90 million seriously who hurt you – I think we can all agree Dune had a pretty stacked deck going against it which those prior big bois did not. Deliberately-paced, dense, hard sci-fi adaptation of a foundational text almost all of the genre’s forays into cinema have mercilessly ripped off for decades, notoriously considered unfilmable, whose last major pop cultural footprint involved a half-naked Sting (the singer not the wrestler) and with no guarantee that Part Two will see the light of day because who the frak knows what goes through the heads of Warner Bros. execs nowadays. Oh, and it’s also day-and-date on HBO Max despite Villeneuve making it repeatedly and very clear how stupid of a decision he thinks that is.
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With those bases loaded, I’d say $40 mil is a good number for opening weekend. In fact, even more encouraging than this (unsurprisingly) being the biggest opening weekend ever for a Denis Villeneuve project, a potential bellwether may be the film’s exemplary IMAX performance. Of that $40 mil, $9 mil came from IMAX screenings, a figure The Numbers tells me is one of the biggest such shares in box office history. If people were going to go see a giant sci-fi epic on the big screen, rather than on the couch disinterestedly scrolling through Twitter whenever the sand worms weren’t vore-ing folks, they were going to do so on the absolute biggest possible screen. Dune also continues to be doing quite alright in international territories, where the total has surpassed the film’s budget ($165 mil for the record), and this weekend marks by far the most successful for Warner’s self-immolating hybrid-release model since Godzilla v Kong. Of course, the real test now will be how it holds next weekend since the aforementioned Halloween Kills also went the hybrid-release route, made a killing in its opening weekend, only to celebrate too long and get shanked in the neck when The Shape turned out to not be so dead this weekend with a whopping 71% drop. Early doors still, is what I’m getting at.
This would normally be the point where I did a recap of the events which took place whilst I was away – a week longer than initially scheduled but that’s cos the STT crew have just been so busy pumping out stuff for you to read, you ungrateful bastards! Except that, darn it all, Dune wasn’t the only thing making big headlines this weekend! Floodgates on releases really have opened and the spoils even seem to finally be reaching the Limited Release crowds too! Or maybe Wes Anderson is just a special anomaly, it’s not like he wasn’t already breaking Box Office records before a global pandemic forced us all to re-examine what constitutes a success. By any metric, though, The French Dispatch is a stonking hit. Starting off on 52 screens, it managed to break into the Top 10 (so more on that in a bit) with $1.2 million but also, in the process, wrested away Venom’s claim on the biggest per-screen average opening of the pandemic era with ease: $25,000 PTA compared to Venom’s $21,310 PTA. Meanwhile, animated family flick Ron’s Gone Wrong booted up a $7.3 million opening for fifth place but, seeing as that film has been utterly buried by reluctant owners Disney, that’s also something approaching a win in my eyes. Wins all round, this week!
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Walk without rhythm and you won’t attract the Full Lis-NO, STEVE, STOP TRAVOLTA STRUTTING, YOU’RE GONNA BRING IT RIGHT TO US!
US Box Office Results: Friday 22nd October 2021 – Sunday 24th October 2021
1] Dune: Part One
$40,100,000 / NEW
To save myself pointless repeating as we get deeper into the list: I have not seen any film released in the UK since the last time we talked, aside from The French Dispatch which played at London Film Festival. Still working, still tired, hopefully get to rectify that this coming weekend. With this, however, you’re in exceptional hands cos the incredible Kelechi Ehenulo already covered your review needs for you! And she was kind enough to only spend two-tenths of our time together at LFF bragging about how great this movie was to my deprived face!
2] Halloween Kills
$14,500,000 / $73,104,845
I’ve been fortunate enough to have parents who have been and continue to be supportive on my own transgender (albeit non-binary) journey, but boy do I still wish that Jamie Lee Curtis was my mom. Actually, even outside of the being an awesome and openly-learning trans ally, I generally wish Jamie Lee Curtis was my mom. Who wouldn’t want this cool-ass nerd as their parent?
3] No Time to Die
$11,886,514 / $120,041,599
His name is Bond, Dave Bond, so his is legally the only opinion on the new Bond movie which matters. Sorry if you have a take, but film criticism assignments work like the monarchy; you gotta be born into the right family name and then your every inane action gets to swallow up valuable discourse air and taxpayer money, otherwise you’re less than a lowly peasant who must take that shit as gospel.
…wait, what were we talking about? Oh, right, the bad new Bond Dave nonetheless liked. Go read his thoughts here.
4] Venom: Let There Be Carnage
$9,100,000 / $181,829,631
Just glancing at that domestic total fills me with disgust. Dave’s also seen and sorta-rated it, though, so maybe it is actually pretty good? Stranger things have happened.
5] Ron’s Gone Wrong
$7,300,000 / NEW
Heard very good things from Kelechi and others at LFF about this, so I’m trying to push the fact of its nearly non-existent promotion out of mind. Usually, complete silence of both buzz and marketing material until a week before release on a film means that the studio knows they’ve got a major stinker on their hands they’re hoping to discreetly offload in a public toilet – and not the nice public toilet, but the sketchy one behind the McDonalds which always looks like a prospective murder location on an episode of Riverdale. But I also know that this was something Disney were forced to pick up in the Fox acquisition, so I can totally see them being real petty and trying to take it round the back of the woodshed for a Lord of the Flies sesh without even giving it a chance to show some potential.
Good lord, what is up with my metaphors today?
6] The Addams Family 2
$4,339,247 / $48,318,224
It’s still Spoopy Season for another few days, and Set the Tape has got all your spoopy recs covered! For example, now’s the time to get into some spoopy podcasts and Helen Balls has put together a list of five she really rates as providing some high-quality spoops!
7] The Last Duel
$2,100,000 / $8,521,918
Programming note: I have just been passed a note from our editor-at-large, Wendy, politely but very firmly asking me to stop using the word and all possible variations on “spoopy” from now until the end of time.
8] Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
$2,000,000 / $221,027,831
I am not going to say it out loud, nor link to any discourse about it and especially not the original tweet in question lest you too get algorithmically spoiled, but god that major Eternals casting spoiler makes me so mad. Not the story itself, I couldn’t care less about that since I’m not some kind of comics-reading NERD. But the fact that a major film critic at one of the industry’s biggest outlets could tweet the story out minutes after his press screening for a movie not being released to the public for another three weeks without any consideration of that fact, and in flagrant violation of spoiler etiquette as a critic (IT’S POST-CREDITS)… and not only seemingly completely get away with it, instead of being publicly blackballed, but have almost every other major film or film-adjacent entertainment outlet immediately repeat said spoiler in all of their headlines like it’s now fair game. It infuriates me just how inconsiderate and shittily this whole thing has been handled. The absolute worst of industry and White male privilege on full unquestioned display.
9] The French Dispatch
$1,300,000 / NEW
Now here’s one I have seen! It’s very good! The most Wes Anderson film ever made, which means a good number of people may find it completely insufferable right off the bat, and his most emotionally removed in a long while. But I just love the way that Wes Anderson makes films, and the final segment with a Best Supporting Actor worthy Jeffrey Wright is truly excellent, so I dug the hell out of it. You can get more in-depth thoughts via my LFF dispatch here.
10] Honsla Rakh
$490,000 / $1,800,000
Last week, Rockstar announced some more-lavish-than-I-was-expecting remasters of the classic PlayStation 2-era Grand Theft Auto trilogy to coincide with GTA III’s 20th anniversary. Amy Walker, in her continued anniversary gaming coverage, commemorated that game’s milestone with a write-up, presumably penned whilst crumbling into dust at the horrifying realisation GTA III is 20 years old.
Dropped out: Free Guy, Lamb, Most Eligible Bachelor