Thu, April 25, 2024

Dune 2: A colossal achievement and big $ for local theaters and beyond

The biggest franchise of the post-Superhero era in movies saw its second installment at the beginning of the month. Delayed by several months due to the industry strikes, the film’s opening was moved from Autumn 2023 to Spring 2024, a move that was done either out of generosity to last year’s Oscar contenders, calculation for a full press rollout, or foresight for owning the year.

Nevertheless, Dune: Part Two is finally in theaters.

The world of Arrakis is reopened for the viewers, continuing the tale of Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) after the destruction of the House Atreides by the Harkonnen, as well as his trepiditious acceptance of the title of messiah (Lisan Al-Gaib). The Southern Fremen are astonished by his revelatory presence; a prophecy of an outsider bringing peace and prosperity to Arrakis, while the more fundamental Northerners are cynical and more captious. Joined by Stilgar (Javier Bardem), Chani (Zendaya), and a band of Fremen, Paul must expand his capabilities as a rebel leader and fighter as they seek revenge on Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard), riding Sandworms into destiny.


The Baron, meanwhile, is recovering from his attempted murder (see the end of the previous Dune), attempting to claim spice production on Arrakis, and training his nephew and protégé, Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler, with an occasional dash of Elvis Presley).

Readers of Frank Herbert’s Dune will recognize this as the latter half of the original novel, or, in layman’s terms, the part where ‘stuff happens.’ Whereas the first Dune meticulously built the world of Arrakis and introduced the Atreides, Harkonnen, and Fremen, this film commences the race to power on the planet. It is non-stop action throughout.

Dune: Part Two is a continuously rolling ball of momentum and pathos, stirring the viewer both to revel in Paul’s introspect and cheer him. The performances of Chalamet, Zendaya, Bardem, and Skarsgard are all clearly driven and inspired, along with Christopher Walken’s Emperor Shaddam IV and Josh Brolin’s Gurney Halleck. But it is Butler who emerged as the most memorable in the ensemble. The 32-year-old actor’s transformation into a screaming, seething, and spitting beast is the stuff of movie magic as it is known today.

As a drama, everything works; there is hardly a moment that feels forced nor tired. As a Sci-Fi epic, it is extraordinarily gripping. The creative and technical elements work in a glorious tandem, with a heart-racing score by Hans Zimmer, believable visual effects, and a scale of production design that elicits the same gasps as perhaps the  Colosseum once did the Romans.

Speaking of scale, the film has made a very pretty penny.

In less than 3 weeks, the film has already outgrossed, and nearly doubled, the entire domestic theatrical run of its predecessor, seeing a whopping $207 Million gross (the first film made $108M in its October-April run in 2021/2022).

Certainly, these numbers are encouraging to a limping Hollywood, and especially during a traditional lull period for big-ticket releases. With Barbie and Oppenheimer’s grasp now relinquished, the industry has banked on this film to maintain a healthy theater-going audience. Chalamet and Zendaya leading the charge doesn’t hurt, and neither does AMC’s (perhaps intentionally naughty) novelty Popcorn bucket – the less said about that, the better.

The movie sees a familiar property with prestige attached both to the source material and the cinematic execution, blending fanfare with film study in a superb marriage.

Dune: Part Two is playing in theaters including Riverwatch Cinemas, Regal Augusta Exchange, and Evans Cinema.

Dylan James graduated from the Savannah College of Art & Design with a BFA in Dramatic Writing. He has studied both the ‘show’ and ‘business’ aspects of show business since childhood, and writes through sociological analysis, seeking relevance in the art and commerce for the moment.

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