Dune: Part 2 Is Not The Savior Movies Need

By Jacob VanGundy | Updated

Since the pandemic hit in 2020, box office returns have been much lower than in previous years, with lots of speculation about what’s behind audiences abandoning the silver screen and how to solve the problem. One of the most frequent sentiments is that a big blockbuster like Dune: Part 2 will get audiences back in theaters, reigniting the theater-going habit. Unfortunately, no matter how big it is, a single movie can’t save the theater experience.

Set Up For Success

This isn’t to say Dune: Part 2 isn’t a massive movie, the follow-up to the 2021 reboot of Dune has everything it needs in place to be a huge hit. The sci-fi epic brings an all-star cast together with Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, Florence Pough, Austin Butler, Dave Bautista, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Christopher Walken, Lea Seydoux, and more, ensuring audiences are almost guaranteed to be a fan of a few of the actors they see on screen. Between the cast, the success of the 2021 Dune, and the reputation of the Dune novels it’s almost guaranteed Dune 2 will succeed. 

Diminshing Box Offce

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But even if Dune: Part 2 exceeds all expectations, it still won’t be enough to save the movie industry or the theater experience. There have already been blockbuster mega-hits since 2020 that didn’t bring audiences back. Diminishing box office returns are the result of a multitude of factors, some of which aren’t even connected to the industry, thinking a single movie could solve those problems is short-sighted and oversimplifies the problems. 

Reliance On Blockbusters

2023 saw two massive hits with Barbie and Oppenheimer, which were similarly being hailed by some as the salvation of the silver screen. Instead, they indicate the harsh truth that audiences are willing to go to theaters for big blockbusters that make it into the zeitgeist, but that doesn’t translate to more viewers for other movies. There’s no reason to think it will be different for Dune: Part 2. 

Streaming’s Impact On Theaters

Among the various problems theaters are facing, one of the biggest and most discussed is the rise of simultaneous streaming releases, something Dune 2 opted out of. One of the main reasons to go to a theatrical release used to be impatience, if you missed the movie in theaters you’d have to wait months for it to be available anywhere else. Now, with movies frequently coming to streaming services simultaneously with theatrical releases, audiences motivated by impatience have lost their reason to go to movies. 

Money Is Worth Less Today

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Another major contributing factor, which has no direct connection to the film industry at all, is inflation. With inflation and other economic issues making people less financially stable, going to the theater has become a luxury many people are simply choosing to do less. It doesn’t matter how good Dune 2 is, no movie is going to undo major economic forces. 

Dune Part 2 Will Be A Success

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For movie fans hoping the theatrical experience remains viable, Dune: Part 2 bringing in huge box office numbers is a good sign, but it’s not enough to save the industry. We’ve seen other blockbusters find success with no real change in box office numbers at large, it’s unfair to expect a single movie to bring audiences back. It’s also a vast oversimplification of the multifaceted problems theaters are facing.