'Dune' Tops Anemic Weekend Box Office With $15.5M

'Dune' Tops Anemic Weekend Box Office With $15.5M

October ended with a whimper at the U.S. box office as “Dune” brought in a relatively puny $15.5 million in ticket sales from 4,125 screens to maintain its top-grossing film status for a second consecutive week.

What Happened: “Dune,” which was theatrically released by AT&T’s T Warner Bros. and simultaneously streamed on HBO Max, recorded a 62% decline in ticket sales from the $40.1 million gross in its premiere last weekend. Nonetheless, the science-fiction epic outpaced “Halloween Kills” from Comcast’s CMCSA Universal Pictures, which placed second with $8.5 million in ticket sales from 3,616 screens in its third week of release – the film is playing theatrically and on the Peacock streaming service – and United Artists Releasing’s 007 offering “No Time to Die,” which ranked third with $7.8 million in ticket sales from 3,507 screens in its fourth week of release.

The three new films in nationwide theatrical release this weekend had mixed box office results. Funimation’s anime feature “My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission” ranked fourth with $6.4 million from 1,602 theaters (a smaller release than the other films playing nationwide). In comparison, “Last Night in Soho” from Comcast’s Focus Features ranked sixth with $4.16 million from 3,016 theaters and “Antlers” from the Walt Disney Co.’s DIS Searchlight Pictures absorbed $4.16 million from 2,800 theaters for a seventh place ranking. 

What Happens Next: Looking ahead to the coming weekend, the biggest release is the Disney-Marvel superhero epic “Eternals” directed by Chloé Zhao, who won the Academy Award earlier this year for her decidedly non-epic “Nomadland.” Early reviews are mixed – Owen Gleiberman of Variety found it a "squarely fun and gratifying watch" with a "winning prototype of a more dynamically inclusive superhero world" while the New York Post’s Johnny Oleksinski called it “one of the MCU’s worst movies in ages” – but smart money would go on audiences ignoring the critics and flocking to the latest Marvel extravaganza.

Among the smaller films in limited release are the Neon release “Spencer” starring Kristen Stewart as the late Diana, Princess of Wales and Saban Films’ crime thriller “Ida Red” starring Oscar-winner Melissa Leo.

Not playing in theaters this coming weekend is “Finch,” the apocalyptic science-fiction film starring Tom Hanks. The film was shot between February and May 2019 under the title “BIOS” and was originally planned for a theatrical release in October 2020 via Universal Pictures. When the coronavirus pandemic shut down theaters, the film’s theatrical release was rescheduled three times this year before it was decided to eschew theaters and take the film straight to streaming via Apple Inc.’s AAPL Apple TV+.

Also Happening: On Oct. 27, Hong Kong's legislature passed a new film censorship law that would impose a $130,000 fine and a prison sentence of up to three years for filmmakers whose works “endorse, support, glorify, encourage and incite activities that might endanger national security.”

According to a Bloomberg report, the law allows investigators to conduct warrantless searches of a film company office or a private club where films are being shown, and it enables the local Film Censorship Authority to demand more information about a scheduled screening. However, the law is vague on streaming services content that might be considered problematic by Hong Kong’s new censorship regime.

Photo: Zendaya in “Dune,” courtesy of Warner Bros.

Posted In: censorshipDuneEternalsHong Kongweekend box officeNews