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‘Dune: Part Two’: How Sci-Fi Space Worm Epic Reared Head To $81.5M Opening After Strike Release Delay – Sunday Box Office Update

SUNDAY AM: It pays to wait.

With a near 600M social media draw boosted by Zendaya, Dave Bautista, Timothée Chalamet, Florence Pugh, and Austin Butler, the move for Legendary/Warner Bros’ Dune: Part Two from the strike-stricken desert of the first weekend of November to early March has yielded an $81.5M domestic (as we first told you last night, it hit $80M) and $178.5M global opening. EntTelligence says that translates to 5.2M admissions for 70% of the weekend’s entire foot traffic.

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Though logic prevailed to delay the movie from its first weekend in November to March (a decision made back in August), that was a daunting challenge for a movie that cost $190M, 80% financed by Legendary Entertainment. And nail-biting to say the least for those involved.

Changing release dates can be expensive: There’s a start and stop of the campaign (which we hear is around $100M global spend, split akin to the production cost share between Legendary and Warners), and a re-start again. Warners is also getting an 8% distribution fee. One casualty for Dune: Part Two during the strike was skipping San Diego Comic-Con, where they were scheduled to appear. But there’s also the carry-cost/finance charges for keeping the movie on the shelf. Once you do that media buy, you’re locked.

However, Warner Bros. domestic distribution boss Jeff Goldstein knew that early March was a rich bed, having launched such movies as The Batman ($134M) and Legendary’s Kong: Skull Island ($61M) here.

However, it became clear to the parties involved with Dune: Part Two that for a movie of this cost, and to mount a campaign at the level that this movie deserved, you needed the cast. It was essential for the actors to explain to the world what a special movie Dune: Part Two is.

When it came to the sequel, Legendary Chairman Josh Grode says, “There was no question this was going to be a 100% theatrical release worldwide.” Coming away from the first movie — which was crimped by Covid and a theatrical-day-and-date release on HBO Max stateside — Legendary did a bespoke analysis and evaluated the financial impact on the first Dune, speaking with global exhibition and Warner distribution, assessing the pandemic’s impact on a country-by-country basis.

The mission: to triangulate the data to come up with what the true mean theatrical box office value was of Dune to justify the $190M net global cost, a production which reaped tax benefits from Abu Dhabi, Jordan, and Hungary.

“We had a once-in-a-lifetime cast that was ready to go, a great script, and a great filmmaker,” says Grode.

Goldstein beamed today, “Denis Villeneuve is an extraordinary filmmaker who assembled an amazing, talented cast, and Mary Parent an epic producer who shepherded this movie and helped create a cultural moment globally.

“You have to see this movie on the largest screen you can. It’s not something you can experience at home,” added the distribution chief, “Cinemas make movie stars and movie stars make cultural moments.”

The gist of their pitch in the campaign: Dune: Part Two is a movie that’s a love story about a boy falling in love with a girl, and boy becoming a man, amid a world that’s pulling them apart. Those are universal themes that required the cast to market that message.

Premium formats across IMAX, Dolby Cinema, PLFs, 70mm, and motion seating drove a massive 48% of the weekend. For Imax alone in March, they notched an opening record of $18.5M, which is a 23% share of the sequel’s 3-day.

Opening domestic records: Biggest-ever for Denis Villeneuve (beating Dune‘s $41M), biggest for Timothee Chalamet (also beating Dune), biggest for Rebecca Ferguson (beating Mission: Impossible Fallout‘s $61.2M), best for Austin Butler (besting Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘s $41M).

In a campaign driven by Warner Bros. marketing czar Josh Goldstine, there were crucial beats to hit, and there were great waves from that.

Let’s start with the first trailer, which became a cultural moment out of last year’s CinemaCon in April, which also ran on prints of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Fast X. The bit highlighted key talent, along with a photo gallery in Vanity Fair. That powerful “Thumper” teaser resulted in 282M social media reach, trending in 19 markets on Twitter and 29 markets on YouTube. The trailer was the No. 1 trending video on YouTube in the U.S., and #1 in Entertainment. At 24 hours, social volume trended ahead of comps.

Trailer 2 was dropped on Mission Impossible 7, Oppenheimer, and Meg 2, as well as social media and key linear, which further targeted the Dune fan community and reached a broader audience on TikTok.

Trailer 3 came off of the fan fervor and excitement generated from Brazil Comic-Con CCXP. Warner further amplified the spot with thanks to top influencer support, brand extensions via games/Activision support, and prime in-theater trailer placement on Aquaman 2. The trailer earned a 99% positive-to-neutral reaction on social, and trended in 13 markets on YouTube, peaking at No. 1 in the U.S. and Canada. Social volume from trailer 2 to trailer 3 had a stronger hold than trailer 1 to trailer 2, we’re told, with females engaging more than any of the comp titles.

Throughout it all, cast was the biggest driver of social conversation. TikTok alone clocked 300M impressions.

Riveting moments on social included the following:

Dune: Part Two spots aired during key programming and pop culture moments, i.e. during the Grammy’s with Taylor Swift Artist Affinity digital surround on Spotify, in a Netflix Griselda sponsorship, the Abbot Elementary premiere, NBC’s La Brea finale, the People’s Choice Awards, American Idol premiere, CBS’ The Equalizer premiere, Daytona 500, America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League finale (NBC), The Irrational finale (NBC), The Challenge finale, SAG Awards live red carpet on E!, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart return, and Univision Premio lo nuestro on Univision. There was also a TikTok top view during the day after the Super Bowl.

Dune: Part Two tickets went on sale on Jan. 26 in a multi-promo campaign with Imax.

On Feb. 9, Dune was re-released in Imax in 50 locations in 40-plus markets, as well as 58 off-shore territories which included a 10-minute sneak peek of the sequel and an announcement about the fan screening of Dune: Part Two on Feb. 25 (which made $2M). There was also that re-issue of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet on Feb. 23, which included exclusive Imax content of Dune: Part Two.

Among the brand partners for Dune: Part Two, there was Xbox, which had movie-themed custom consoles and the world’s first floating controllers. There was a Microsoft Flight Simulator Dune Expansion Pack, as well as content with Chalamet and Butler. At the London and NY premieres, there were Microsoft Flight Simulator Influencers and a life-size Ornithopter Game Simulator.

There was also a Govee collaboration with their TV backlights, which entail an immersive viewing experience via their smart lighting products, to mirror aesthetics of the film.

Also, a Hamilton watches partnership with two limited edition watches inspired by the film.

Another biggie was Samsung, which brought Dune2’s trailer to Neo QLED 8K screens in more than 65K retail stores around the world.

Also, Smartwater with paid social media posts week of release and a NY premiere sponsorship.

Car partner was NIO in China.

EntTelligence says that most people who attended Dune: Part Two went between the hours of 5PM-8PM (33%), followed by 1PM-5PM (31%), 8PM and later (19%), and before 1PM (17%).

The box office data org also reports that family groups came out more on Saturday, and their activity was much higher with the more economically priced standard format ($13.94 average price overall per ticket vs. premium average price ticket of $17.43). Families constituted 13% of the audience, an increase from Friday’s 5%.

“While both days predominantly attracted non-family attendees, the increased percentage of Family Groups on Saturday suggests a slight shift in the audience composition, making it more diverse in terms of household types,” says EntTelligence. Also, when comparing family attendance and adult age group variances across IMAX, standard, and large format screenings, the standard format drew 19% family attendance versus that group’s attendance at Imax (8%) and PLF overall (12%).

The top 10 locations overall are: 1. AMC Lincoln Square New York, 2. TCL Chinese Los Angeles, 3. Cineplex Cinema Banque Scotia Montreal, 4. AMC Metreon San Francisco, 5. Regal Irvine Spectrum Los Angeles, 6. AMC Burbank, 7. Cineplex Scotiabank Toronto, 8. AMC Empire New York, 9. AMC Universal Citywalk Los Angeles, and 10. AMC Kips Bay New York.

Meanwhile, the top markets were Los Angeles, NYC, San Francisco, Toronto, Dallas, Seattle, DC, Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Denver.

Hope is that more women turn out in the days to come: CinemaScore reports that 41% came out, which is a greater share than what PostTrak shows (37%).

Overall box office weekend hit $113M, -5% from a year ago, per ComScore. Meanwhile, thank God for Dune: Part Two, as it propelled the domestic box office for 2024 YTD past the $1 billion line, though still -13% behind the same Jan. 1-March 3 frame a year ago.

Studio reported numbers:

1.) Dune: Part Two (Leg/WB) 4,071 theaters, Fri $32.3M, Sat $28.8M Sun $20.3M 3-day $81.5M/Wk 1

2.) Bob Marley: One Love (Par) 3,390 (-207) theaters, Fri $1.92M (-48%) Sat $3.4M Sun $2.09M 3-day $7.43M (-45%) Total $82.77M/Wk 3

3.) Ordinary Angels (LG) 3,020 theaters Fri $1.05M (-55%) Sat $1.66M Sun $1.14M 3-day $3.85M (-38%)/Total $12.5M/Wk 2

4.) Madame Web (Sony) 3,116 (-897) theaters, Fri $800K (-51%) Sat $1.46M Sun $940K 3-day $3.2M (-45%) Total $40.4M/Wk 3

5.) Chosen, Season 4, Ep. 7-8 (Fathom) 2,235 theaters, Fri $971K, Sat $1.2M Sun $936K 3-day $3.15M, Total $3.9M/Wk 1

6.) Migration (Ill/Uni) 2,204 (-230) Fri $450K (-32%) Sat $1.27M Sun $780K 3-day $2.5M (-13%) Total $123.4M/ Wk 11

7. Demon Slayer…(Sony) 1,949 theaters Fri $515K (-91%) Sat $905K Sun $645K 3-day $2.06M (-82%)/Total $15.7M/Wk 2

8.) Wonka (WB) 1,732 (-471) theaters, Fri $350K (-42%) Sat $865K Sun $520K 3-day $1.73M (-29%) Total $216.7M/Wk 12

9.) Argylle (App/Uni) 2,283 (-2) theaters, Fri $370K (-50%) Sat $650K Sun $380K Sun 3-day $1.4M (-49%) Total $43.9M/ Wk 5

10.)The Beekeeper (AMZ MGM) 1,347 (-810) theaters, Fri $275K (-45%) Sat $524K Sun $314K 3-day $1.1M (-42%) Total $64.9M/Wk 8

11.)Drive-Away Dolls (Foc) 2,278 (-2) theaters Fri $300K (-71%) Sat $430K Sun $270K 3-day $1M (-58%)/Total $4.3M/Wk 2

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SATURDAY PM: It might be raining in California and in the Northeast, but all Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros see is sun, sun, sun, and that’s from the rays of Dune: Part Two which posted a Saturday of $28M, which indicates that this Denis Villeneuve directed space opera is heading to an $80M stateside start. Nancy says the global debut is $160M.

Dune: Part Two‘s Saturday is bigger than Oppenheimer’s ($26.2M) and Five Nights at Freddy’s ($24.2M). The former is more and more becoming the comp given the premium ticket juice Dune 2 has; that Christopher Nolan directed Oscar nominated movie legging out to a near 4x for a final domestic gross of $329M. Against the pure Friday of $20.2M (less $12M previews), Dune: Part Two is +39% today. Muy bien.

Overall estimated box office weekend for all movies is pegged at $112.2M, which is -5% from the same weekend a year ago. This despite the fact that Dune 2 is posting a higher opening than that frame’s No. 1 title, Creed III which did $58.3M. The difference is that there were more holdovers in the marketplace posting double digit million grosses, i.e. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Cocaine Bear and Demon Slayer.

DUNE: PART TWO
Austin Butler and Lea Seydoux get kissy kissy as ‘Dune: Part Two’ heads to $80M

Second place belongs to Paramount’s Bob: Marley: One Love which did $3.45M, +80% over Friday for a third weekend of $7.45M, -45%, for a running total of $82.7M. Both Dune: Part Two and Bob Marley: One Love will be the first two movies of 2024 to ultimately cross the century mark.

SATURDAY AM: Legendary Entertainment/Warner Bros’ Dune: Part Two is shaping up at this moment to with a weekend take around $76M, which though not at that $80M expectation the industry was putting upon it, is still wonderfully 85% over of Dune‘s $41M opening, which was dampered down by Covid and pic’s avail on HBO Max. Friday came in with $32.2M, which includes previews. The last time we saw a Friday with previews north of $30M was at the end of October with Universal/Blumhouse’s Five Nights at Freddy‘s posting $39.6M which turned into an $80M opening. Dune: Part Two‘s Friday is also just under that of Oppenheimer‘s which was $33M (and an $82.4M opening).

I hear that Dune: Part Two is going to have a great Saturday. Already as of this AM, Warners has $13.5M bagged for Saturday. I understand that they’re up 30% over the pure Friday (less previews). The sequel has an excellent 80% definite recommend, and an 80% definitely see in a theater. On Friday, close to half the audience bought their ticket day of indicating strong walk-up business.

At the end of the day, Dune: Part Two is a box office blessing, make no mistake. CinemaScore is a solid A, ahead of Dune‘s A-. PostTrak is still high at 5 stars, 94% positive. That’s enough spice to keep this sci-fi epic space worm movie going.

Some see the Denis Villeneuve directed movie’s take at $72M-$75M. We’ll get into that in a minute, but this sci-fi epic has all the diagnostics to overperform tonight. The question: do more of the Zendaya fans come out and does this turn into more of a date night film than it is: 20% came with their partner/spouse while 11% brought a date versus 21% who went alone and 17% who brought one friend. Women under 25 at 10% attended, and they gave the Timothee Chalamet, Austin, Butler, Zendaya pic an 85% to the 93%-plus grades of the other demos. Dune: Part Two is dude leaning at 65%.

REBECCA FERGUSON as Lady Jessica in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
REBECCA FERGUSON as Lady Jessica in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Right now Imax and PLFs are driving 48% of the weekend gross similar to the first Dune and an amazing share for upscale tickets. Audiences are discerning and want to see this movie in the most ideal situation, meaning the best theater, greatest premium format and the best seats. Imax alone is 27% which is an unusually high share for Imax, and that’s big push to this movie in the best formats. There is a constant near sellout of Imax, Dolby and PLF auditoriums, even during early shows, at AMC’s Porter Ranch, Universal City, and Century City, however at the Valencia Regal just outside of LA (which is desperate need of a remodeling, there’s a lot of empty seats in standard shows). The problem with some of these premium auditoriums at AMC is that the first two rows are too close to the screen. Often, you don’t see them selling out. What winds up happening: If a moviegoer can’t get their best seat today, then they’ll see Dune: Part Two tomorrow.

PostTrak shows 18-34 repping 55% of the audience with 24–34-year-olds the largest demo at 34% with the overall over 35 crowd repping 41% of ticket buyers.

Adam Aron’s AMC Lincoln Square in NYC is the highest grossing theater in the nation at $165K so far. While Dune: Part Two is playing best everywhere, but overperforming in the West and Mountain regions.

On PostTrak, 54% said they snapped up ticket to Dune 2 because it’s part of a franchise they love, while 33% came because it’s a Villeneuve movie, 29% for Chalamet and Butler, and 21% for Zendaya.

Of those who’ve seen the movie, 47% said they’ll watch Dune: Part Two in a theater again — more than any other home watching option.

1.) Dune: Part Two (Leg/WB) 4,071 theaters, Fri $32.2M, 3-day $76M/Wk 1

2.) Bob Marley: One Love (Par) 3,390 (-207) theaters, Fri $1.92M (-48%) 3-day $7.35M (-45%) Total $82.6M/Wk 3

3.) Ordinary Angels (LG) 3,020 theaters Fri $1.05M (-55%) 3-day $3.7M (-40%)/Total $12.4M/Wk 2

4.) Chosen, Season 4, Ep. 7-8 (Fathom) 2,235 theaters, Fri $971K, 3-day $3.4M, Total $4.1M/Wk 1

5.) Madame Web (Sony) 3,116 (-897) theaters, Fri $800K (-51%) 3-day $2.85M (-52%) Total $40M/Wk 3

6.) Migration (Ill/Uni) 2,204 (-230) Fri $450K (-32%) 3-day $2M (-30%) Total $122.9M/ Wk 11

7.) Demon Slayer…(Sony) 1,949 theaters Fri $515K (-91%) 3-day $1.86M (-84%)/Total $15.5M/Wk 2

8.) Wonka (WB) 1,732 (-471) theaters, Fri $380K (-37%) 3-day $1.47M (-40%) Total $216.4M/Wk 12

9.) Argylle (App/Uni) 2,283 (-2) theaters, Fri $360K (-51%) 3-day $1.3M (-53%) Total $43.8M/ Wk 5

10.)The Beekeeper (AMZ MGM) 1,347 (-810) theaters, Fri $275K (-45%) 3-day $1.02M (-48%) Total $64.8M/Wk 8

11.)Drive-Away Dolls (Foc) 2,278 (-2) theaters Fri $290K (-71%) 3-day $1M (-58%)/Total $4.3M/Wk 2

UPDATED, Friday late afternoon: The $190 million Legendary Entertainment/Warner Bros sequel Dune: Part Two is heading for a $30 million-$34 million Friday, inclusive of $12M previews, for what’s shaping up to be a $70M-$80M weekend at 4,071 theaters. Lower estimates stem from the fact that this movie is not a younger-skewing fanboy movie; those over 25 attended last night at 77%, with guys over 25 repping 53% of the crowd.

Last night’s Screen Engine/Comscore PostTrak exits were from another galaxy at 5 stars, 94% positive. Women over 25 at 24% were the second-biggest demo, followed by men under 25 at 15% and women under 25 trailing at 8% (that portion of Zendaya’s fans haven’t showed up yet). The 25-44 demo repped 53% of the audience. Diversity demos were 48% Caucasian, 22% Hispanic and Latino, 13% Black, 10% Asian and 7% other.

I’m told there are still seats available — indicative in the pic’s opening. But if you’re trying to get seats this weekend in the Dolby auditorium of AMC’s Century City or Porter Ranch location, fuhgettaboutit.

We’ll have more updates as they come.

RELATED: ‘Dune: Part Two’ Movie Posters and Images: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Josh Brolin & More

UPDATED, Friday AM after Thursday EXCLUSIVE: Legendary/Warner Bros’ Dune Part Two has now grown to $12 million-plus in previews, Warner Bros said Friday. That’s from 4,500 locations; Imax alone delivered $4.5M of that number, or 38%. Of that preview figure, $2M came from an Imax fan screening on February 25. Audience reactions have hit Rotten Tomatoes and they’re at 95%, which is great. Denis Villeneuve’s first Dune saw 83% certified fresh from RT critics and 90% from RT audiences.

Dune: Part Two preview cash is just under that of Deadpool, which did $12.7M in 2016, and it’s just under the $13M made from Warner’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (midnight show starts back in 2012). Again, those didn’t have any fan screening money built in, but that’s interesting range of fanboy comps for two movies that opened to $132.4M and $84.6M, respectively.

Dune: Part Two is roughly 10 minutes longer than the 2021 version at 2 hours and 46 minutes. Given how important it is for fans to see this movie in Imax or a premium format, it will be interesting to see whether there’s a slow burn on this. Some box office sources have assumed the sequel is front-loaded, but it’s clear Dune: Part Two demands appointment viewing; moviegoers will want the right seats in the right auditorium for a near three-hour feature. Imax, Dolby Cinema and PLFs were a massive driver on the first pic, repping 50% of its $41M 3-day (again, it was day-and-date due to Covid on HBO Max). Imax theaters alone delivered $9M from 404 screens on the first Dune for 22.5% of the weekend.

(L-r) ZENDAYA as Chani and REBECCA FERGUSON as Lady Jessica in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release
(L-r) ZENDAYA as Chani and REBECCA FERGUSON as Lady Jessica in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release

The last Dune saw $5.1M in previews delivering a $17.5M opening day, or 29%.

Meanwhile, movie theaters are approaching this movie like it’s Star Wars. Well beyond AMC’s Sandworm popcorn bucket (which are going for close to $70 on Etsy), chains are selling Dune-themed drinks.

Megaplex denizens drinking blue worm juice.
Megaplex denizens drinking blue worm juice.

At Santikos Theatres in Texas the bar special is the Arrakis Sunset. At the Larry H. Miller Megaplex theaters in Utah, they’re serving blue worm juice (aka “The Water of Life”), which actually is Powerade (hey, it’s Utah!).

The last Dune received an A- CinemaScore and 4 1/2 stars, 84% positive on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak, with a 66% definite recommend.

Yesterday, Deadline’s Nancy Tartaglione reported Wednesday’s offshore results, which were $7.6M (that includes previews) from 13 markets including No. 1s in each, particularly France, Italy and Korea.

EXCLUSIVE, THURSDAY PM: Welcome back to the cinema, everyone.

Legendary Entertainment/Warner Bros’ Dune: Part Two is off to a strong start with $10 million-plus in previews, per industry estimates Thursday. We hear that figure includes $2M from the Imax fan event screening that took place February 25. Note that these numbers do not come from Warner Bros, so they might be higher or lower Friday morning. Previews began at 3 p.m. today.

At $10M+, that’s the biggest preview cash we’ve seen since Barbenheimer on Thursday, July 20, when Warner Bros’ Barbie made $22.3M and Universal’s Oppenheimer did $10.5M. Also, Five Nights at Freddy’s, despite going day-and-date on Universal’s Peacock streaming service put up a great Thursday night preview of $10.3M on October 26.

Freddy’s opened to $80M, while Oppenheimer started at $82.4M. That’s the top end of where many are expecting the Denis Villeneuve-directed sequel to come in this weekend.

Far and away, Dune: Part Two‘s previews are ahead of the Thursday night of 2021’s Dune, which did $5.1M from showtimes that started at 6 p.m. They’re also ahead of John Wick: Chapter 4‘s $8.9M; that movie put up a $73.8M three-day total.

What is slightly difficult in projecting at this point is that presales for Dune: Part Two are premium-format frontloaded and standard advance ticket sales are OK, per sources. Advance ticket sales of $18M typically indicates a movie will open to north of $100M, but many in distribution circles are taking those presales with a grain of salt.

Dune: Part Two has everything going for it: 95% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with critics and a social media universe per RelishMix of 575.5M across Facebook, X, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. That easily blows away the 468.9M SMU of the first Dune in October 2021 which was available day-and-date on HBO Max.

Reports RelishMix: “An element in re-dating Dune 2 in the strike from the first weekend in November was clearly the social fire-power of the cast with Zendaya at 227.8M, Dave Bautista at 180.1M, Timothée Chalamet at 21.1M, Florence Pugh at 9.5M, Austin Butler at 5.2M and Josh Brolin at 3.3M.”

On the social media monitor’s rule stick that’s “full activation at 10 on a scale of 10 with all cast super social and fully activated across all social platforms.”

Nothing but sun, sun, sun for Dune as far as social media chatter goes, just like its desert setting.

Says RelishMix, “Convo tone on Dune: Part 2 runs positive with chatter on all aspects of the film — everything from the camerawork to the soundtrack is drowning in praise: ‘I am so impressed by the scale of these movies.  These are a masterclass in filmmaking; they don’t make them like this anymore.’ The ensemble cast is energizing fans, saying, ‘We get to see more of Zendaya!’ and, ‘It’s SO good to see Christopher Walken back in action again.’ Fans are unanimous that director Denis Villeneuve can be trusted to deliver the goods as always, with fans remembering his work on Dune and Blade Runner 2049. Many comps this to original The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The score, by composer Hans Zimmer, is particularly getting fans riled up. ‘That music! Goosebumps galore! Zimmer does it again!’ The film is being described as even more than a blockbuster, instead as a “complex geopolitical thriller,’ and fans want more of it: “This better be a 3+ hour movie.'”

We’ll have more updates as they come.

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