Why ‘Dune’ Can’t Rely On HBO Max To Justify A Sequel


Selection dropped a giant function associated to Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, which screened to optimistic notices on the Venice Movie Competition and begins its gradual worldwide theatrical roll-out beginning tomorrow prematurely of its October 22 home debut. Buried within the article is the notion that the movie would possibly nonetheless spawn a sequel (Dune half Two, because the upcoming movie is barely the primary half of Frank Hubert’s large tome) even when underwhelms on the field workplace. HBO Max viewership shall be factored in alongside the uncooked theatrical income. Nevertheless, current historical past reveals that if Dune bombs in theaters, it would endure an identical destiny on HBO Max as effectively.

It’s no secret that I’m satisfied/involved that the web curiosity within the $165 million sci-fi motion fantasy just isn’t indicative of common viewers curiosity. Dune might comply with a destiny just like Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. That movie earned rave opinions and a $90 million home/$252 million worldwide theatrical cume. That might have been nice had the two.5-hour, R-rated, action-lite, star-free (Ryan Gosling isn’t an opener and Harrison Ford hasn’t been one since What Lies Beneath in 2000), “exhausting sci-fi” flick not value $155 million. It was… fascinating to see the filmmaker get one other $150 million-plus funds to make one other “strictly for the followers” sci-fi adaptation of what’s (when it comes to common audiences) a cult property.

Anyway, the notion that even an underwhelming world field workplace may be salvaged by sturdy HBO Max viewership numbers is… optimistic at greatest. Merely put, glancing on the 2021 WB launch slate, the movies which have performed considerably effectively on HBO Max are the identical ones which have succeeded on the field workplace. Going by the Samba TV opening weekend figures (that are pretty much as good as we’ve obtained till HBO Max begins being included within the Nielsen lists), Godzilla Vs. Kong earned a $50 million Wed-Mon opening weekend over Easter 2021 and logged 5.1 million households over the primary 17 days. Likewise, The Conjuring: The Satan Made Me Do It earned 3 million households, by which era it had grossed $53 million home from a $24 million debut weekend.

When Within the Heights crashed on opening weekend with simply $11 million, everybody hoped that it merely meant that numerous of us watched the acclaimed Jon M. Chu-directed musical on the Warner Media streaming platform. I can’t communicate to long-term, however the movie was seen by simply 696,000 households (out of the 28 million American “sensible TVs” measured by Samba) over its opening weekend. Likewise, Malignant opened with simply $5.5 million home this previous weekend and logged solely 753,000 households. That’s decrease than Memory (which opened with simply $2 million final month) and 53% lower than the 1.6 million that watched Conjuring 3 on its HBO Max opening weekend. Opposite to standard perception, the parents not seeing Warner Bros. theatrical films in theaters aren’t as a substitute watching them on HBO Max.

It additionally reveals, once more, that subjects and content material that dominate entertainment-specific Twitter discourse (like Within the Heights, The Suicide Squad or Malignant) don’t correlate to common viewers curiosity. It’s fairly simple to get one thing associated to the SnyderVerse trending on Twitter, however Zack Snyder’s four-hour model of Justice League nabbed simply 3.2 million households within the first 17 days, proper between The Conjuring 3 and Marvel Girl 1984 (3.9 million in late 2020). The Suicide Squad did fairly effectively by HBO Max requirements, nabbing 4.7 million households within the first 17 days. However cash is cash, and the $180 million James Gunn flick has grossed simply $165 million worldwide.

The largest large film premiere for HBO Max this yr was, amusingly sufficient, Mortal Kombat. The R-rated online game reboot/re-adaptation opened effectively with $23.3 million however plunged afterward with a mere $43 million home (and $88 million world) cume. To the extent that Mortal Kombat’s sturdy (5.5 million households within the first 17 days) deserves a attainable sequel, A) it’d justify itself as “proof” that the “Undertaking Popcorn” plan didn’t kneecap all of WB’s large franchises and B) the movie solely value $55 million. I wouldn’t say the Lewis Tan-starring flick was a business hit, however its sturdy HBO Max figures correlates with a fairly respectable opening weekend.

I’ve but to see Dune, and I’m hoping I’ll prefer it (Arrival and Sicario > Prisoners and Blade Runner 2049). I’m not optimistic, however I’ll fortunately eat crow if of us truly present up for the formidable and star-filled (Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Dave Bautista, and so on.) in theaters and/or on streaming. However current historical past means that not-good-enough field workplace will then correlate with not-good-enough HBO Max viewership. And because the movie could have opened in a lot of the world previous to its home debut (which can mute some piracy considerations), we might already know if Dune is doomed earlier than it premieres right here on October 22.

Fact be informed, the principle motivator for a sequel, until in fact it’s truly a success, is the notion that having one half of a full story gained’t be of any long-term worth to Warner Media. Dune half One with out Dune half Two gained’t be of a lot use to Warner Bros. or Discovery, both as an A-level streaming attraction or one thing that may be launched and re-released in numerous bodily media codecs. The query is whether or not spending one other $160 million shall be value it in order that Dune doesn’t grow to be the fashionable equal of Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings (an animated adaptation that ended on the 2/3 mark).

The notion of studios ready to see how the primary movie performs earlier than green-lighting a sequel continues to be how issues work, even when it generally appears in any other case because of the sheer quantity of pre-release chatter targeted on future installments and attainable spin-offs. If Dune is a success, it’ll get a sequel. If it’s not, effectively, then it most likely gained’t. That such formulation are unsure reveals how determined studios are to take care of the notion that day-and-date releases didn’t do actual hurt to seemingly surefire theatrical franchise titles (Jungle Cruise, Marvel Girl 1984, and so on.). Alas, I’m unsure Dune was ever “surefire” within the first place.

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