Was dune 2021 a flop?

Dune was neither a financial success nor a failure theatrically, which isn’t entirely rare for a blockbuster. The film had a production budget of 165 million and grossed 402 million globally.

The break-even point for Dune was likely around 445-495 million which means the film was likely in the red for Warner Bros. There were numerous factors going against Dune such as its day and date release on HBO Max and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

How did dune not make a profit?

Dune grossed 402 million on a budget of 165 million so how the heck did it not make money? There are two factors to consider.

Marketing costs and shared ticket sales

Films split roughly 50-60% of their ticket sales with theaters so the 402 million Dune made goes down dramatically just from that. Another major factor is marketing.

Large blockbuster tentpole films like Dune typically spend a gigantic amount on marketing their film to a global audience.

Dune’s budget was 165 million so a decent guess would be that they spent an additional 41-58 million on marketing but there is no definitive way to know how much marketing spend was used for a particular film.

However, a rule of thumb that is often used is that typically a studio will spend about 25-35% of the production budget (separate) on marketing. So in Dunes case the production and marketing costs probably amounted to about 200-225 million total.

What was Dune’s break even point?

As mentioned before it is estimated that the break even point for Dune was around 445-495 million. Typically a large Hollywood blockbuster that has a budget over 100 million needs about 2.7-3x its production budget just to break even.

This is the case because sales tax laws and theater profit shares fluctuate in international markets. It is hard to predict break even points for films like Dune when it made almost 300 of it’s 400 million overseas.

In Dune’s case a multiplier of 2.7x (445 million) would be the best guess as to the number it needed to break even.

Dune would come in at the lower end of the multiplier rule because it’s box office did not rely as much on China, who takes 75% of ticket sales for films that play in the country. Dune only made about 30 million in China.

Non theatrical revenue: HBO Max views, Blu ray/DVD sales

Dune had one of the most popular Blu-ray releases of 2021. As of this publish date Dune is nearing 16 million dollars in domestic DVD/Blu-ray sales just a year after it’s release.

The 4k Blu Ray of Dune (paid link) was widely acclaimed and considered one of the best of 2022, it also got high praise for the traditional Blu-ray, which you can buy here. Dune also reportedly did fantastic on HBO max.

Was Dune a success?

Even though Dune did not break even it can still be considered a success because it was released during Covid and had a day and date release.

If Dune was not released on streaming or during Covid the film could of potentially made anywhere from 500-600 million worldwide.

It is no secret why Warner Bros greenlit Dune Part 2 and has shown such tremendous confidence going forward for this IP.