Here’s how much Dune cost to make and what it needs to earn to be considered a box office success. Over the past handful of years, director Denis Villeneuve has established himself as one of the premier sci-fi filmmakers of this era. His Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 earned widespread critical acclaim and are favorites among cinephiles. Despite that, Villeneuve is not synonymous with commercial success. He’s still haunted by Blade Runner 2049 becoming a box office bomb. With that in mind, there was a lot of interest in Dune’s performance.
There was a lot riding on Dune, especially since the film only draws from the first half of the source material. A sequel wasn’t a guarantee prior to the movie’s release, so Warner Bros. would be looking at HBO Max streaming numbers and box office figures to determine the burgeoning franchise’s future. Fortunately for everyone involved, Dune was a box office hit during its opening weekend, paving the way for Dune 2 to become official. The early returns are encouraging, considering how much the movie cost to make.
Dune’s reported production budget is $165 million, comparable to Blade Runner 2049 ($150-185 million). Dune was much more expensive than Arrival ($47 million), which makes sense since Dune’s scope is considerably larger. Villeneuve’s latest is cheaper than similar title Tenet ($200 million). The 1984 version of Dune cost between $40-42 million, which adjusted for inflation comes out to be around $110.8 million.
Going by the general rule of thumb (double the production budget is a film’s breakeven point), Dune has to earn $330 million worldwide to recoup its costs. As of this writing, Dune has earned $223.2 million globally, so the movie is on its way to crossing that point. While there’s still a long way to go before box office numbers hit 2019 levels again, theaters have seen a resurgence this year thanks to highly-anticipated titles like F9, Black Widow, Shang-Chi, No Time to Die, and more. Dune actually scored WB’s biggest opening weekend since Joker in 2019 by making more than $40 million domestically. It’s already the 13th-highest grossing movie of the year, and should continue to do well considering the word of mouth. Dune will face competition from Marvel’s Eternals, but it should be able to clear the $330 million mark.
Of course, box office alone isn’t the only factor for judging Dune’s success. WB put a lot of stock in the film’s HBO Max performance, which didn’t disappoint. Dune beat out Zack Snyder’s Justice League for HBO Max viewership, indicating how popular it was with audiences at home. That, combined with the strong box office, galvanized Legendary Pictures to move forward on a followup. Conventional thinking would dictate that Dune 2 could be an even bigger hit when it opens in 2023. It will be a theatrical exclusive, and there’s a lot of interest in the property. Moviegoers will be keen to make the trip to the theater when the sequel debuts.