Despite releasing simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune drew $40.1 million at the box office in its opening weekend, keeping hope for a sequel alive. The sci-fi epic is an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s legendary 1965 book of the same name.

“This was a tremendous result as we’re ramping out of the pandemic,” Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warner Bros, told the Associated Press. “Once we get out of the pandemic, if we have a movie like this, clearly you’d want to go into theaters first. There’s no question of that.”

“Denis made an extraordinary movie and fans are enthusiastically appreciating it and spreading excellent word of mouth,” Goldstein told Deadline.

Dune, Box Office
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Notably, Dune is simply part one of a broader story, as Villeneuve decided to gamble on the success of a first film in the hope that he’d be offered funding for a sequel, rather than cram the entire story into a single movie.

“It’s a very awkward position I’m in right now,” Villeneuve said in a Zoom call for the Venice Film Festival. “It’s true that I did just half of a movie. It’s a crazy way to do things … It’s like doing half of a painting or half of a symphony and saying, Wait, everybody, we’ll continue in two years … But those movies are very expensive to make, and I agreed with the deal to do the first part. It’s a gamble.”

Dune’s star-studded cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, and more.