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Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic will launch in China on Oct. 22, with the 25th Bond film debuting a week later on Oct. 29.
Landing a China release date is a huge boost to both Dune and No Time to Die. Delayed several times, both films have seen their box office prospects severely constrained by the pandemic. Due to earlier and more stringent pandemic-era lockdowns, China has also emerged to become the world’s biggest moviegoing market in 2021, well ahead of North America.
Eon’s James Bond franchise has done respectable and steadily increasing business in China. Sam Mendes’ Spectre made $83.5 million in 2015, and Skyfall grossed $53 million in 2012. Going back further to Daniel Craig’s first two outings as 007, Quantum of Solace made $20.6 million in 2008 and Casino Royale $11.7 million. However, back then China’s market was a fraction of the size it is today.
Direct comparisons for Legendary/Warner Bros.’ Dune are more difficult, but Villeneuve’s two previous big-budget sci-fi films did only modest business in China. 2016’s Arrival made $15.9 million, and 2017’s Blade Runner 2049 made $11.7 million. But playing in the movie’s favor is the general popularity of sci-fi in China and its made-for-Imax elements, with the larger-screen format in high demand despite the more expensive ticket price.
Another possible advantage for Dune is that co-producer Legendary is owned by Chinese conglomerate Wanda, which also owns one of the largest cinema chains in the country, guaranteeing the film a healthy number of screens and geographic coverage as well as marketing support.
Dune launched at the international box office this weekend, opening to $36.8 million across 24 markets and 7,819 screens. Russia led international tickets sales with $7.6 million, followed by France ($7.5 million), Germany ($4.9 million) and Italy ($2.6 million).
Of interest, Dune‘s Imax ticket sales made up 10 percent of the movie’s total international take.
Next weekend, Dune will continue its international expansion, opening into the Middle East, before expanding into smaller markets in mid-October and then debuting worldwide on Oct. 22, including in North America where it will release day-and-date on HBO Max. It should be noted that surges of COVID-19 cases continue to impact international markets like Australia, Japan and Korea.
Cary Fukunaga’s No Time to Die, Craig’s last outing as Bond, launches in North America on Oct. 8.
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