Box office preview: ‘Dune: Part Two’ could have biggest opening since ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ – Gold Derby

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March kicks off with a big one, a hugely anticipated sequel to an Oscar-winning sci-fi blockbuster that has everything going for it. Read on for Gold Derby’s box office preview.
You’ll be hard to find someone who isn’t excited about the release of Denis Villeneuve‘s “Dune: Part Two” this weekend, more than two years after the first chapter won six Oscars, mainly for technical and crafts categories. Originally, the sequel was going to be released in November, which would have made more sense for awards, but it was delayed until March due to the ongoing actors strike, which would have not allowed Villeneuve’s stacked cast to get out and promote the film.

The original movie, based on Frank Herbert‘s 1965 sci-fi classic, opened in October 2021, not too long after theaters reopened post-pandamic, with $41 million, while at the same time playing on HBO Max. While it only made $109 million domestically, it grossed $324.8 million overseas with crafts work so impressive that they cleaned up at the Oscars.

SEE 2023 box office hits: Every movie that made more than $100 million
Two years later, “Dune: Part Two” is going to benefit even more from the trajectory that Timothée Chalamet‘s career has taken, as he is one of the hottest young actors under 30, as is Zendaya, who has become super-popular due to HBO’s “Euphoria” and the “Spider-Man” movies, the most recent one, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” making nearly $2 billion a few months after the release of “Dune.” Chalamet is currently starring in one of the biggest hits of the holidays, Warner Bros’ “Wonka,” and the two of them have been traveling across the globe promoting the sequel.
They’re joined by two new cast members, also super-hot actors under 30, Florence Pugh and Austin Butler, the latter who was Oscar-nominated for playing “Elvis” just last year. Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin (who will be hosting “Saturday Night Live” in a couple of weeks) and Dave Bautista are all back with Christopher Walken playing a key role in the sequel. Those who may have been disappointed by Zendaya’s small role in the first part of “Dune,” should be happier with her role this time, even though “Part Two” does kind of end on another cliffhanger, since Villeneuve has stated interest in directing a third movie, based on Herbert’s “Dune: Messiah” book.

As of this writing, “Dune: Part Two” has racked up mostly positive reviews, currently at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, and when you combine rave reviews saying that the sequel is better than the first movie with star power and genuine anticipation, you end up with a bonafide event film unlike any we’ve seen in months. It’s a little hard to believe that no movie has opened even close to $100 million since “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” back in early October – that opened with $93.2 million – but since then, the box office really has been quite dead for whatever reason.
Warner Bros. really has done everything right in the lead-up to the movie’s release, and while the three-hour runtime might not make $100 million impossible persé – Robert Pattinson as “The Batman” opened with more than that in 2022 – but it will make it tougher. Still, this is very likely to open with more than $85 million and maybe the desire for many to see it on premium screens like IMAX might push it closer to $100 million.
SEE Grab the popcorn and sound off in our movie forums
The only movie that’s being offered as counter-programming is Angel Studios’ “The Chosen Season 4 Episodes 7 & 8,” which will open on Thursday probably in a similar 2,200 theaters s the previous two installments. As mentioned earlier this month, it definitely feels like this series is having diminishing returns, with Episodes 1-3 opening with $5.9 million and Episodes 4-6 opening with $3.6 million. That’s compared to the $8.8 million opening for the first two episodes of Season 3 back in November 2022. As of now, the most recent release has grossed just $7.9 million which is a little over half the earlier installments, so this might be the last time Angel Studios tries a stunt like this, especially if the latest release ended up opening with less than $4 million.

The biggest hurdle the finale of this preview has to overcome is that Hilary Swank‘s “Ordinary Angels” has been received quite well, and it’s likely to be in the same $4 million range. In fact, last week’s “Demon Slayer” release is likely to have a big drop, yet still end up in that same range, as well. At least “Bob Marley” should be good for second place even if the rest of the top five might be tough to call.
As far as limited releases, A24 will be giving Juan Torres‘ comedy “Problemista” a limited release ahead of its wider release later in the month. The movie, which premiered at the SXSW Film and TV Festival last March, stars Torres as a toy designer from El Salvador who comes to New York City with dreams of working at Hasbro, only to run into troubles with his work visa. The person he turns to is Tilda Swinton‘s Elizabeth, the type of nightmare boss that makes deportation look like a better option.
On top of that, Sony Classics is giving the Australian International Feature Oscar submission “Shayda” a platform release in New York and L.A. Directed by Noora Niasari, the film follows a Persian woman (Zar Amir Ebrahimi) living in an Australian shelter with her young daughter, who is caught up in a heated custody battle between her parents.
Check back on Sunday to see how “Dune: Part Two” does in its attempt to save the box office. You can also read the monthly preview about the other movies being released in March.
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“Oppenheimer” dominated Saturday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, but the most explosive category was lead actress with Lily Gladstone defeating Emma Stone. Gold Derby editors and Experts Christopher Rosen and Joyce Eng are here to break down the SAG Awards results and what they mean for the Oscars. Click the photo above to watch the video.

Watch our lively chats with Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) and over 70 more of the 2024 Oscar nominees…
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Take a trip back to the Academy Awards ceremonies of the recent past with Gold Derby’s Oscars Playback series. Hosts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen recap every Oscar ceremony of the 1990s and 2000s. Joyce and Chris tackle the highs and lows of each show and see how the winners aged. It’s a wonderful night for Oscar, whenever you watch!
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