Eternals reigns supreme at the box office With a $71 million debut
The film “Eternals” surged to the top of the weekend box office chart, fueled by Marvel fandom. However, the superhero film’s $71 million premieres fell just short of more optimistic estimates, which saw the film opening between $75 million to $80 million. That may be an indication that “Eternals'” poor reviews hampered its success, or it could be a clue that the underlying intellectual property, the concept of a bunch of god-like extraterrestrials, didn’t resonate as well as earlier comic book adaptations. Marvel has successfully introduced lesser-known heroes to movie viewers and established profitable franchises with them, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, but that series received a boost from critics and debuted before anybody had heard of COVID.
Despite this, “Eternals” had the fourth-best opening weekend of any film during the pandemic era, trailing Marvel’s “Black Widow” ($80.3 million) and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($75.3 million), as well as Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” ($90 million), which was based on a Marvel comic. It’s an impressive number — and any other studio would be pleased to have a premiere like that for its film, especially given the difficult theatrical market — but it’s difficult not to see it as falling short of Marvel’s lofty goals. Heavy is the head that wears the box office throne, and so on. “Eternals” grossed $90.7 million internationally, pushing its total to a whopping $161.7 million. South Korea, the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, and Australia are among the key markets where the film is showing.
Chloe Zhao, who helmed the Oscar-winning “Nomadland,” directed “Eternals,” but critics complained that the picture is heavy on exposition and low on fun. It holds the dubious distinction of being the only Marvel film to receive a “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with only 47 percent of reviews indicating positive feedback. Audiences were likewise unimpressed with Zhao’s efforts, awarding the picture a mediocre “B” CinemaScore, which marks a low point for the MCU.
“You have to put things in perspective,” says Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock. “This kind of result would be a major, major hit for any other studio.” The critical reception for ‘Eternals,’ however, is concerning for Disney, as it will have an impact on word-of-mouth in the future. In its second or third weekends, the box office may witness a significant dip.”
Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek, and, in a mini-” Game of Thrones” reunion, both Richard Madden and Kit Harrington star in “Eternals,” which has a large ensemble cast.
Other films in the marketplace had to make do with scraps as “Eternals” loomed hugely. With $7.6 million, Warner Bros. and Legendary’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic “Dune” came in second, bringing its domestic total to $83.9 million. Days after the first entry in the Dune-verse was released in theatres, a sequel was formally greenlit. Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Javier Bardem, Zendaya, and Rebecca Ferguson star in Denis Villeneuve’s film.
“No Time to Die,” produced by MGM and United Artist Releasing, came in third place with $6.2 million, bringing the spy film’s total to $143.1 million. The picture, which is Daniel Craig’s farewell outing as 007, will be available for digital rental next week, just 31 days after it premiered in theatres. Most major releases are released on-demand after 45 days, which is much less time than it was before the epidemic when studios provided theatres a 90-day exclusivity window.
With $4.5 million, Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” was fourth on the charts. The symbiote sequel has grossed $197 million in the United States. “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” an animated adventure from Twentieth Century Studios, rounds out the top five with $3.6 million. This brings the total domestic revenue to a pitiful $17.6 million.
Neon’s “Spencer” opened to $2.1 million in slightly under 1,000 theatres in the arthouse industry. The film, which stars Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in a chameleonic performance, is likely to be a key contender in the awards season race. If it wants to make a profit, it will have to maintain generating buzz and word-of-mouth.
“Eternals” is a pivotal moment in Marvel’s development. With “Avengers: Endgame,” the studio has said goodbye to some of its most well-known heroes, like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America, and now it must replace the vacuum with a new cast of renowned super-heroes. Simultaneously, the studio is pushing more into the streaming realm with shows like “WandaVision” and “Loki.” Marvel made much of its intention to give Zhao artistic freedom with “Eternals,” but her decisions may have alienated some readers.
“In terms of plot, this film did not follow the Marvel blueprint,” explains Bock. “Audiences have come to expect a certain type of film from Disney and Marvel, and this is off the beaten path.”