How ‘Dune’ could work at the box office and boost HBO Max


  • Warner Bros. ‘ Big-budget “Dune” hits theaters and on HBO Max this weekend.
  • The film enters a busy month for new releases which have had mixed results.
  • Meanwhile, the Warner Bros. movies seem to be attracting new Max subscribers.

Warner Bros.’s big-budget sci-fi epic “Dune,” hits theaters in the United States and on

today, ending a month crowded with new, long-delayed releases that yielded mixed results at the box office.

Hollywood and theaters have high hopes for “Dune”, which cost $ 165 million to produce before marketing expenses. The film is already performing well in some international markets and has earned $ 130 million so far. But as theaters in the United States slowly recover from the pandemic, a pole like “Dune” can be either a sign of hope or an overwhelming disappointment.

In a first forecast, the Box Office Pro Chief analyst Shawn Robbins predicted the film would open in the country with between $ 35 million and $ 45 million.

“’Dune’ opens in a busy October market,” Robbins wrote. “Only followed by a major Marvel Studios film ‘Eternals’ two weeks later on November 5. This is an unprecedented level of direct competition in a short window during the pandemic.”

The international box office is expected to fall significantly behind if “Dune” opens on the lower end of that spectrum (it also opens in China this weekend, which has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest theatrical market. thanks in large part to the success of local productions).

After Max arrived on Thursday night, piracy could also be an issue, as has been the case with other Warner Bros. movies. This year.

“When a movie is shown simultaneously on a streaming service, a blank copy of that movie is available from the first day it hits theaters,” John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, told Insider.

Warner Bros. has seen box office hits this year, like “Godzilla vs. Kong,” and failures like “The Suicide Squad,” which only grossed $ 55 million domestically.

But executives maintained the simultaneous “day and date” release strategy, noting that the box office is not the only way to gauge a film’s success. In an interview with Deadline, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks president Ann Sarnoff used as an example the “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark”, which has grossed just $ 8 million in the United States since it opened on the 1st October.

“You see ‘Sopranos’ appear in the top 10 most watched series on the service,” said Sarnoff. “It gave it a whole new life. It literally lifted the ‘Sopranos’ franchise in a new way, so you can’t measure it by itself at the box office.”

WarnerMedia has yet to disclose viewership numbers for Warner Bros. releases. this year, although the films seem to be attracting new Max subscribers.

During the earnings report from WarnerMedia’s parent company AT&T on Thursday, the company said that HBO and Max had seen subscribers in the United States grow from 47 million to 45.2 million subscribers in the United States. nationwide, after HBO was pulled from Amazon channels and around 5 million customers lost access to the platform. But the combined global total has reached 69 million subscribers.

“Seeing the total national HBO / HBO Max subscribers ONLY down from 1.8 million sequentially is impressive – likely a combination of continued solid organic growth and a rapid recovery in subscribers,” LightShed Partners analyst, Rich greenfield tweeted.

Max offered a 50% new subscriber discount last month in an effort to attract customers who subscribed to HBO through Amazon. But Greenfield also attributed the number of subscribers to WarnerMedia’s movie release strategy.

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