Searchlight Pictures’ The French Dispatch from Wes Anderson opened in North America on $1.3m in 52 cinemas setting a pandemic-era per-theatre box office record of $25,000.
The film opened at number nine and usurped the previous per-theatre champion, Venom: Let There Be Carnage from Columbia Pictures on $21,309.
The French Dispatch, about an eccentric team of reporters reporting on eccentric aspects of life for an American publication in a fictitious French locale, premiered in Cannes over the summer after its Croisette debut was delayed a year by Covid-19.
Bill Murray, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Owen Wilson, Timothee Chalamet, Tilda Swinton and Saoirse Ronan are among the ensemble cast.
While the per-theatre average is low compared to pre-pandemic times, it illustrates how the right film released in the most effective way can reach audiences with encouraging results. The film expands into more than 600 sites next weekend.
Meanwhile Warner Bros opened Deni Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic Dune at number one on $40.1m from 4.125 sites. While not the highest result of the pandemic era the box office needs to be assessed bearing in mind the film opened day-and-date on HBO Max and may appeal to an older audience, which has been more reluctant to venture into cinemas.
It remains to be seen whether Warner Bros will greenlight a sequel, although WarnerMedia top brass sounded high on the well-reviewed film last week. Dune premiered out of competition in Venice.
Disney animation Ron’s Gone Wrong arrived in fifth place on $7.3m from 3,560 locations.