As we all know, it is a tricky time to plan anything during a global pandemic. Just when things look like they are winding down and returning back to normal, a new variant pops up or something else causes us to delay things once again and retreat back into our homes. This is never more true than with theatrical releases, with major studios having to weigh their options between delaying a movie’s release, releasing to streaming services or a combination between the two. There is no clear cut answer, with each option full of its own pros and cons. However, there is good news to be had: the release of Dune this weekend shows a promising turn of events for movies in the coming months.
Dune, a remake of a classic science fiction novel of the same name, released this past weekend in theaters and for free on HBO Max (to those who subscribe to the streaming service). During it’s first weekend in theaters, the film has earned $40.1 million for the US box office, setting a new pandemic record for the studio since they announced that all movies for 2021 would be released both in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously. Taking a look at several other blockbusters from during the pandemic, it may look at first glance that Dune is not doing well, but let’s break it down a bit.
Sure, Dune is trailing behind almost every other major release during the COVID-19 pandemic, but when you think about it, it really is doing well. Every other movie in the chart above has the benefit of being part of a larger franchise, with a built-in fan base who will brave potential illness to see their favorite movies in theaters. Godzilla vs. Kong is not only the fourth film in the current franchise but the 33rd (!) Godzilla film and the eight King Kong film. Both Shang Chi and Black Widow are part of the MCU; F9 is the tenth film in the Fast and Furious franchise; Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a sequel; and No Time To Die is the 25th in the series. All of these other films have credibility in the eyes of movie-goers, and Dune, though it is a remake of a popular novel, does not have the benefit of coming in with as established a fan base as the others.
There’s also the release strategy that needs to be taken into consideration. Shang Chi, No Time To Die, and F9 only released in theaters, with no option to stream the movie at home. Black Widow was able to be streamed at home, but at a premium cost of $30 on top of a Disney+ subscription price. For those movies, the most viable option was to go see the movie in theaters, greatly contributing to their overall box office haul.
Taking all of that into consideration, the fact that it is doing as well as it is in just the first week of release is a good sign for the movie industry. People are ready to go back to theaters. Now all studios need to do is make sure they are ready to produce the content we want to see.
Featured image source: Lola Lambchops