Mar 18, 2024

Marketing Spice: the evolution of Dune: Part Two's audience

There’s no question that Dune: Part Two is the biggest movie of 2024 thus far. With a global box office total more than double that of the runner-up after only its first week, and overtaking the previous instalment’s lifetime gross by the end of its second week, Dune: Part Two has provided a well-needed rain after a drought of content.

After a difficult box office for a number of weeks before Dune: Part Two’s release, cinemas will be looking for the best way to maximise their marketing impact and drawing the biggest audience they can to see the movie. To make the most impact, marketers need to understand the specifics of who their audience are, and how they behave.

As we cross the second week of Dune: Part Two’s theatrical run, we decided to break down the key elements that make this movie’s audience stand out, and to see how it has evolved over the opening weeks.

Comparing Dune: Part Two against Dune (2021)—which for clarity, we’ll refer to as Dune: Part One—we can see both how the audience differs for the sequel, and how the trends of Dune: Part One might help predict audience behaviour in the coming weeks.

Pre-release showcased an appetite for premium formats

One of the most stand-out elements of the audiences for both Dune instalments is how many moviegoers choose to purchase tickets for IMAX and Premium Large Format (PLF) sessions over standard screen sessions. This was already impressive in Dune: Part One’s case, and is even more extreme for Dune: Part Two.

In fact, during Dune: Part Two’s pre-release, more moviegoers purchased tickets for IMAX (40%) than standard format screenings (35.5%). While IMAX and PLF tickets are always higher in pre-release, the benchmark for all movies is 8.2% IMAX against over 70% for standard format.

This has continued through the movie’s theatrical run, with IMAX tickets counting for 20.8% of opening weekend tickets, 18.1% of tickets in week 1, and 22.1 % of tickets in week 2, alongside PLF tickets accounting for 23% on the opening weekend, 22.7% in week 1, and 21.2% in week 2.

Dune: Part Two IMAX (blue) vs IMAX benchmark across all movies (purple)

Movie marketers could lean on the fact that Dune: Part Two was filmed entirely with IMAX cameras to encourage more moviegoers to turn out to these popular IMAX screenings as the theatrical run continues.

Calling back to Dune: Part One’s many Oscar wins across Best Score, Sound, Cinematography, and more could further remind audiences of the prestige of Denis Villeneuve’s movies. To make the most of this trend, marketers can highlight this to both entice new moviegoers and to encourage those who have already seen Dune: Part Two in smaller formats to return for the IMAX experience.

Opening weekend drew Infrequents back to the cinema

Dune: Part Two saw the biggest opening weekend of the year by a significant margin. With $82.5M from the domestic market spread across 4071 screens, the movie saw an enormous per-screen average spend of over $20,000. Its global box office for the opening weekend, at $182.5M, sat slightly higher than that of Oppenheimer last year, at $180.4M.

Dune: Part Two’s opening weekend also saw a massive proportion of Infrequent* moviegoers; those who have attended 2 or fewer movies in the past 6 months. The benchmark for Infrequent moviegoers for all movies in Movio’s Research Console sits at just under 30%, and on an opening weekend, that lowers to 27%. For Dune: Part Two’s opening weekend, Infrequent moviegoers made up more of the audience than any other frequency, at 45% of the audience.

A surge in Infrequent moviegoers is always good news for the industry; these mark the blockbuster titles that are bringing people back to the cinema. Titles like Oppenheimer, Avatar: The Way of Water, Top Gun: Maverick, and of course Dune: Part One saw similar boosts in Infrequent attendance throughout their theatrical run, and Dune: Part Two’s opening weekend saw slightly more Infrequent moviegoers than each of them.

Infrequent moviegoer attendance, which typically rises over a movie’s theatrical run, rose in week 1 to almost half of Dune: Part Two’s audience (48.9%), and rose to be the majority in week 2 at 52.5%.

Week one and an aging audience

By the start of Dune: Part Two’s first week, it was already the highest grossing movie of the year. By the end of the week, it was fast approaching the lifetime gross of its predecessor, with a worldwide total of $367M, and a domestic gross of $36M for a respectable drop of only 44%.

As mentioned, Dune: Part Two’s week 1 audience saw an increase in the attendance of Infrequent moviegoers compared to both the opening weekend (up 3.5%), and compared to week 1 for Dune: Part One (up 5%). Similarly, two-ticket purchases increased to 49.6% of the audience, slightly above the benchmark for all movies at 48.3%.

With Dune Part Two’s first week, we see a difference in the age of attending audiences compared to Dune: Part One. Where Dune: Part One saw a large percentage of 18-24 moviegoers at 14.6%, and a slight dip from the average for moviegoers aged 35-44, Dune: Part Two’s audience was very concentrated across moviegoers aged 25-54, with an older audience overall than Dune: Part One.

Moviegoers aged 25-34, typically the highest attending segment, were more than 7 percentage points above the benchmark for Dune: Part Two at 23.7% vs 16.1%. Unlike the first instalment, the 18-24 segment fell below the benchmark for all movies, while moviegoers aged 35-54 rose in attendance.

Audience age breakdown for Dune: Part Two (blue) compared to Dune: Part One (black)

Week two, and marketing spice

As Dune: Part Two crossed the $200M mark in the domestic market, with a cumulative total of $208M, and reached $289.4M internationally in its second week, surpassing the global lifetime gross of Dune: Part One and coming within inches of the half-billion-dollar mark at $494.7M globally.

So as Dune: Part Two continues to surge ahead, how can movie marketers make the most of its popularity?

Examining where Dune: Part Two showcases the extremes of its audience, especially with Dune: Part One to compare against, there are many opportunities that could enhance box office returns for cinemas.

Across both instalments of Dune, the audience has skewed enormously in favour of Male moviegoers, at close to 70% of the audience for both movies. With Dune: Part Two increasing the screentime for Zendaya as the female lead compared to Dune: Part One, and the romantic arc between her character Chani and Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, potential angles arise to try to encourage more Female moviegoer engagement. Highlighting both the star power of the two leads, and the romantic story arc in an effort to market Dune: Part Two as a possible date movie would capitalise on both the rising trend of 2-ticket purchases with the movie, and entice the currently under-represented Female moviegoer demographic.

As seen throughout Dune: Part Two’s run thus far, IMAX screening popularity has maintained a strong interest for moviegoers, surpassing other PLF screenings in week 2. Dune: Part One’s IMAX interest waned faster, likely due to the attendance loss from its simultaneous release on streaming platforms. Emphasising Dune: Part Two’s status as filmed-in-IMAX, the rave reviews for its IMAX screenings, and the unmatched theatrical experience that provides, will all help to push more moviegoers to purchase these premium screening tickets. With 13% of moviegoers being repeat visitors in Dune: Part Two's second week, there is already an appetite for rewatching the movie to tap into.

For more moviegoer insights, discover audiences for the biggest titles each week with Movio's Weekend Insights, or if you are interested in discovering more insights or to learn about our Research product, reach out to us today.

*Frequency is based on a moviegoers' six-month session count:
< 2 = Infrequent
2-5 = Occasional
6-25 = Frequent
26+ = Very Frequent

Written by


Connect with us