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Forget about sweet and savory. Try sweet and sandy. It’s a dish that’s turned into power food for Timothée Chalamet, star of Christmas blockbuster Wonka — which has quietly rung up $624.8 million at the global box office — and now Dune: Part Two. Last year, the young actor rocketed to No. 7 on the list of the top-grossing stars at the 2023 worldwide box office, up from No. 33 in 2022 and No. 49 in 2021, per box office tracker The Numbers.

The site bases its yearly ranking on movies released in that particular year and the two preceding years (that means 2021’s Dune was counted in Chalamet’s tally). The star is the youngest of the top 10 names on the 2023 list, disabusing the notion that there’s no replacements for the actors who can open a movie around the globe but who are now in their 50s, 60s and 70s (Dwayne Johnson, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Hanks) or 80s (Harrison Ford).

Over the March 1-3 weekend, Legendary and Warner Bros. breathed a well-deserved huge sigh of relief when Dune: Part Two opened to a notably better-than-expected $82.5 million domestically and $100 million overseas for a global start of $182.5 million.

Rival studios believe Dune, which cost a net $190 million to make after production and tax incentives, is almost certain sail past its breakeven benchmark of $500 million and ultimately earn $600 million to $700 million. (Hampered by pandemic-era constraints and a day-and-date release on Max, the first Dune topped out at $433.8 million.)

Dune 2’s opening is a major win for Legendary, which took a risk when delaying the sequel’s release from last fall until now in order to have the cast — which also includes young stars Zendaya, Elvis’s Austin Butler and Florence Pugh — available to publicize the movie once the SAG-AFTRA strike ended. Legendary was intent on broadening the audience, versus just relying on die-hard fans of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi 1965 novel. It appears to be working.

The percentage of opening weekend ticket buyers who were between ages 18 and 25 jumped from 14 percent for the first film to 18 percent for the follow up, and from 20 percent to 28 percent for those between ages 26 and 35, according to EntTelligence, which visited approximately 380 theaters across 40 circuits. The 18 to 35 demos are considered key because they are the most frequent moviegoers.

“We did some testing on some early materials for trailers and how it was resonating, and when we had our cast available, many of the numbers absolutely jumped up because we had them available to work and promote the movie,” says Legendary CEO Josh Grode.

Asked about plans for third film, Grode’s enthusiastic tone suggested there could be news soon: “We’re all actively engaged in Dune: Part Three. That’s what I’ll say for right now.”

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