close
close

What will it take to dethrone Dune 2 as the box office number one in 2024?

Three months after its theatrical release, Dune 2 remains the highest-grossing film of 2024 worldwide. Denis Villeneuve's epic sci-fi sequel grossed $712 million (£560 million) at the box office, beating the likes of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and Kung Fu Panda 4.

Fans of the film are thrilled with its financial success, especially as it makes the prospect of a third film – an adaptation of Frank Herbert's sequel novel Dune Messiah – all the more likely. But there is someone who is not very happy that Dune 2 is still at the top of the box office charts: Denis Villeneuve.

“I'm disappointed to still be number one,” Villeneuve said at the 2024 Canadian Screen Awards over the weekend. “I hope there will be more box office successes soon. I hope the box office this summer will be much better sooner rather than later.”

Read more: Review of Dune Part 2: Timothée Chalamet shines in masterful science fiction epic (Yahoo Entertainment)

Denis Villeneuve with Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin on the set of Dune 2. (Warner Bros Pictures)

Denis Villeneuve with Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin on the set of Dune 2. (Warner Bros Pictures)

Villeneuve said the multiplex lacked true “cinematic experiences” this summer, but pointed to Alex Garland's thrilling action film “Civil War” as a rare example of what he believes the industry needs.

He added: “I think we need films that are a theatrical experience, that fully exploit the power of the theater, and I'm not just talking about Dune 2. Of course, I'm talking about many films. A film like Civil War, for example, is a strong example of a film that fully exploits the power of the theater. I was lucky that Part 2 reached audiences, I wish that would happen more often, to be honest.”

Read more: Kirsten Dunst: “Civil War” is a warning not to take democracy for granted (PA Media)

Civil War has so far grossed $115 million (£90 million) at the worldwide box office, putting it outside the top 10 films of the year. It is, however, a decent hit and one of A24's highest-grossing films, surpassed only by Oscar-winning blockbuster Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson in Dune 2. (Warner Bros Pictures)Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson in Dune 2. (Warner Bros Pictures)

Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson in Dune 2. (Warner Bros Pictures)

So far, nothing in 2024 has come close to Dune 2. For example, if you took the film currently in second place on the charts, Godzilla x Kong, and added all of Civil War's earnings, it still wouldn't come close to Dune.

Read more: Steven Spielberg says Dune 2 is one of the best science fiction films of all time (Full film)

There has definitely been a lack of huge blockbusters this year. That's partly due to the absence of Marvel, who chose not to release anything in their usual February/March slot. By this point in 2023, Marvel had already unveiled Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania ($476m/£374m at the box office) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($846m/£665m).

By the beginning of June 2023, there were already three more films than Dune 2. There is nothing to see this year. Most franchises have stayed away and those that have tried have struggled to make an impression.

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire will be the second box office grosser in 2024. (Warner Bros.)Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire will be the second box office grosser in 2024. (Warner Bros.)

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire will be the second box office grosser in 2024. (Warner Bros.)

However, there are some exciting summer blockbusters lined up for 2024 that could turn the tide. First up is Despicable Me 4. There's nothing like the Minions in Hollywood, and you'd be a fool to bet that this won't be the first film of the year to break the billion-dollar mark.

Another highly reliable family film is coming out this summer with Inside Out 2. Pixar blockbusters haven't been so safe since the pandemic forced the studio to release films like Turning Red and Luca on Disney+, but if there's one franchise that can reverse that trend, it's one as popular as Inside Out.

Read more: Running time of “Inside Out 2” shorter than the first film confirmed (Digital Spy)

Then, of course, Marvel will get back in the game with Deadpool & Wolverine. In theory, an R rating could cause some problems, but the strength of these two characters has been a strong testament in the past. This age rating will also not prevent the DC sequel Joker: Folie à Deux from matching the billion-dollar gross of its predecessor.

Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga star in “Joker: Folie A Deux.” (Warner Bros.)Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga star in “Joker: Folie A Deux.” (Warner Bros.)

Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga star in “Joker: Folie A Deux.” (Warner Bros.)

Fall and winter bring several big stars in addition to the Joker. Ridley Scott returns to the Colosseum for Gladiator 2, Tom Hardy returns to his era of symbiote chaos for Venom: The Last Dance, and Disney unveils a sequel to Moana. Even if summer is a flop, there are plenty of films waiting in the wings to dethrone Dune 2.

Read more: Early footage from Gladiator 2 reportedly blew studio executives away (Full film)

But Villeneuve's concerns are understandable. We're halfway through the year, and Hollywood's considerable muscle is still flexed when it comes to box office hits. Four of the year's current top 10 films are Chinese. This not only reflects the strength of that country's box office hits, but also shows that the United States has had a rather lean year.

The solution? Minions, emotions and the Joker. Quite a trio.