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‘Dune’ Mines Just $6.45 Million Out of China on Opening Day

‘Dune’ Mines Just $6.45 Million Out of China on Opening Day
“Dune” was unable to surpass Chinese propaganda war movie “The Battle at Lake Changjin” to take the top spot on its China opening day Friday, coming in second with just $6.45 million (RMB41.2 million) according to Maoyan data, despite a protracted charm offensive to raise awareness about the film in the increasingly sci-fi hungry country.

As of the early hours of Saturday local time, the Maoyan platform now estimates that it will mine a total of just $30.9 million (RMB197 million) out of the world’s largest film market — down more than $4 million from its prediction midday Friday.

The result is lackluster at a time when the Chinese market is capable of delivering opening days of hundreds of millions for popular titles, and where the heavy-handed “Battle” opened to a $32 million first day late last month — more than “Dune”’s entire predicted haul.

The Timothée Chalamet-starring film nevertheless did better than the director Denis Villeneuve’s previous outings in the country. In 2017, his “Blade Runner 2049” grossed $2.52 million (RMB16.1 million) on opening day and “Arrival” grossed $3.07 million (RMB19.6 million), albeit at a time when China was home to far fewer screens. Those films ended up earning $11.7 million and $15.9 million in China overall, respectively.

“Dune” was allocated a reasonably strong 36.5% of screening sessions nationwide on day one Friday, but is currently set to occupy a lesser 29.4% of screenings on Saturday — a potential indication of faltering confidence in the picture, given that Chinese exhibitors’ programming decisions are highly dependent on early sales.

Imax estimated Friday that some 21% of the nationwide “Dune” box office came from its fleet of screens.

“The Battle at Lake Changjin,” co-directed by heavyweights Chen Kaige, Dante Lam and Tsui Hark, has grossed $808 million so far in 23 days.

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