February box office flat as Dune makes opening weekend splash

February box office flat as Dune makes opening weekend splash
Dune: Part Two opened to £9.1m in the UK

February box office in the UK and Ireland totalled £78.4m, a 1% decrease compared with February 2023’s £78.5m, according to the latest figures from Comscore.

Year to date, total box office is tracking 1% ahead of 2023.

However, the box office is primed for a boost in March, helped by Dune: Part Two, which debuted with £9.1m ($11.5m) in its opening weekend (with global gross at $178.5m).

This puts Dune: Part Two below last year’s biggest blockbuster hitsBarbie (£18.5m in its opening weekend) and Oppenheimer (£10.9m), but makes it the biggest opening weekend of the year so far.

Its debut weekend alone would have been enough to place the film as the third-best performer in February had it been released during that month.

The top-performing film in February was Universal’s animated Migration (£16.6m), followed by Paramount’s biopic Bob Marley: One Love (£12.4m).

Analysis: ‘Encouraging result’

“At the start of the year, February 2024 looked weaker than February 2023, but box office being flat year on year, and admissions being up approximately 8%, is a really encouraging result,” commented Tom Linay, content business director at Digital Cinema Media.

Migration confirmed Illumination Entertainment’s position as the leading animation studio, while Bob Marley: One Love proved the UK public still love a music biopic (good news for Amy Winehouse and Back to Black, coming in April).

“As we move into March, Dune: Part Two has opened with a terrific £9.3m, almost doubling the Friday to Sunday total of the first film, which bodes well for the rest of the month.”

On a recent episode of The Media Leader Podcast, Charlene Williams, Pearl & Dean’s group senior operations and business analyst, said advertisers had been leaning into opportunities around Dune, in particular because the first Dune was re-released in cinemas in the weeks leading up to the sequel’s opening.

“Advertisers need to look at the slate that’s there and see where their brand aligns and what they can create,” Williams advised.

Strong Wonka performance

Thanks to a strong February, Migration is currently the top-performing film of 2024, followed by Warner Bros’ Wonka, which debuted on 8 December 2023 but has earned an additional £13.4m in the year to date.

Wonka‘s cumulative gross of £62.7m ranks the film at number 25 in the UK and Ireland all-time list (not adjusting for inflation), just ahead of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (£61.0m).

The one Marvel film to be released so far this year, Sony Pictures’ Madame Web, underperformed at the box office last month, earning just £3.7m. It is currently tracking 35% behind its predecessor, Morbius.

March slate

Apart from Dune: Part Two, March will see a number of family-friendly titles hitting cinemas, including Sony’s Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 4 and the cinematic release of Disney Pixar’s pandemic-era Soul.

There are also a number of female-led films, such as Lisa FrankensteinCabrini, Ethan Coen’s Drive-Away Dolls, Sydney Sweeney vehicle Immaculate and Mothers’ Instinct starring Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway.

Podcast: Cinema’s recovery and the need for renewed DEI efforts — with Pearl & Dean’s Charlene Williams

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