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Dune becomes Warner Bros. biggest opening of the pandemic

Even with the HBO Max simultaneous release, Denis Villeneuve's Dune was a "winner."

Dune

Timothee Chalamet stars in Denis Villeneuve's Dune.

Warner Bros

The box office numbers are in for Denis Villeneuve's Dune. Released in US theaters on Oct. 21, the sci-fi epic scored a milestone opening box office of $40.1 million.

This makes Dune Warner Bros.' biggest three-day box office since it launched its simultaneous release strategy with HBO Max. It sails past previous record holder Godzilla vs. Kong's $31 million opening at the end of March.

Warner Bros. saw slightly less respectable numbers with day-and-date releases in the months between. James Gunn's The Suicide Squad was a notable disappointment in August with a $26.1 million opening weekend. Space Jam: A New Legacy and In the Heights also failed to make a splash.

Dune fared well at the international box office as well, collecting another $47 million. Its current total gross globally is $220 million.

"I'm smiling," Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein said on Sunday morning (via Variety). "Exhibitors are thrilled. The best part is, fans are loving what they're seeing. They're loving the big-screen experience. It's been a winner of a weekend for movie-lovers."

Director Villeneuve had always intended Dune to have two parts. But Part 2 hasn't been greenlit and Villeneuve expressed concern that the day-and-date HBO Max release plan would hinder box office revenues and diminish justification for the sequel.

Dune cost Warner Bros. (and Legendary Pictures, which co-financed the film) $165 million and would potentially cost the studio another $150 million for the sequel.

WarnerMedia chair Ann Sarnoff told Variety that, "The story in itself sets up for a sequel. The production is so amazing and the storytelling is so compelling that it's not going to be judged on box office alone."

Dune has been received well by critics (for the most part), described by CNET reviewer Richard Trenholm as "a tour de force of cinematic sci-fi, a star-studded yet deeply weird fantasy epic and a thoughtful and thrilling movie experience."