The 1984 science fiction movie Dune will be returned to the screen in a big way as it collected more than $40.1m at the North American box office in its opening weekend.
Eric Goldsmith’s remake of the 1984 David Lynch cult classic, starring Game of Thrones’ Paul Dano and Michael Shannon, also reaped an impressive $9.4m in Britain, according to Box Office Mojo.
The critically mauled offering from Mr Goldsmith’s Dune Company, which failed to capture the public’s imagination after its opening weekend, will score well in the overseas territories where its various international distributors have been doing their utmost to broaden the release to international audiences. Dune showed in Germany, France, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, as well as in the UK.
Back at home in America, it was projected to take in about $30m this weekend, but with three days still to go is expected to rise far beyond that figure. It raked in $6.7m on Friday alone, so the final total could be far greater than the $20m anticipated by the trade publications Rotten Tomatoes and CinemaScore.
The Verve, who claim to be in charge of marketing Dune, say the film was made on a $40m budget with a $55m budget abroad. They will benefit from foreign film markets as it could perform very well in Asian nations such as Korea, Japan and Taiwan, while it will also do well in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, especially Colombia.
Dune, which is being broadcast in 3D in select theatres, has already become something of a worldwide box office hit. It opened in Paris to 10% of the screen share, and has become the top imported film in total in 32 of the 34 countries that were included in its opening weekend. It earned $28.5m in the US and Canada alone on its opening weekend, and has made $48.1m in total since.
The film, based on Frank Herbert’s 1984 novel of the same name, is an epic depiction of a mythical landscape shaped by technology and science. It tells the story of Paul Atreides, a nobleman who decides to lead his family to the desert city of Arrakis, a source of critical spice for the powerful Emperor. What ensues is a battle against sand worms and cultists.
However, Dune was panned by critics and rakes in an abysmal 26% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Film critics are unsure if Dune is a David Lynch fan film that evokes the vision of the director from the mid-60s until his death in 1991, or if it is the work of David O’Russell, known for comedies such as Three Kings and The Fighter, who directed it. As such, it is difficult to assign any particular mood and theme to the remake, says Jeffrey Wells, entertainment editor of LA Weekly.
“It’s in the Lynch category. There’s a lot of dread, a lot of dark humour, but there’s also a degree of parody and parody of the film genre and there’s also a lot of real genius.”
A sizable number of international fans, however, have taken to Dune’s cause after all screenings were moved from Australia and New Zealand to Singapore, citing safety concerns after The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies leaked ahead of schedule.
Ed Pawlowski, the director of the prestigious Scottish festival Traverse, which will be hosting a nine-day Dune season in June, told Scotsman.com that Dune’s new director, Eric Goldsmith, was doing a “tremendous” job.
“I’m glad it’s getting a good response because it’s a film that has stood the test of time,” he said. “Even to this day – there are so many people who loved the original as kids and young adults who can recite lines of dialogue and everything from the original movie. The same for the video game fans. They love this film so much and this really brings it all together and shows it’s bigger than the narrative.”