Eternals soared to the top of the weekend box office chart, buoyed by mania for all things Marvel. But its $71 million debut fell just short of projections, which had the superhero film debuting to $75 million.
That’s a sign, perhaps, that the iffy reviews muted Eternals results or a signal that the underlying intellectual property, the story of a group of god-like extraterrestrials, didn’t have the resonance of other comic book adaptations.
Marvel has successfully introduced lesser-known heroes, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, to movie fans and spawned successful franchises with them, but that series got a lift from critics and also debuted in a time before anyone had ever heard of Covid-19. So, a much different world order.
Eternals still managed to score the fourth-best opening weekend for any movie during the pandemic era, sliding in behind Marvel’s own Black Widow ($80.3 million) and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ($75.3 million) as well as Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($90 million), which was made by Sony but based on a Marvel comic creation.
It’s an impressive number — and any other studio or feature would be thrilled to have a launch of that size — but for a Marvel venture it’s hard to not view it as falling short of sky-high expectations. Heavy the head that wears the box office crown and all that. Internationally, Eternals took in $90.7 million, bringing its global haul to $161.7 million.
Eternals is directed by Chloe Zhao, fresh of the Oscar-winning Nomadland but reviewers griped that the film in long on exposition and light on entertainment. It has the ignominious distinction of being the only Marvel movie to draw a “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with only 49% of reviews marked as positive. Audiences were also lukewarm on what Zhao cooked up, giving the film a so-so “B” CinemaScore.
Dune, Warner Bros. and Legendary’s adaption of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel, came in second with $7.6 million, pushing its domestic haul to $83.9 million. A sequel to the film was officially greenlit days after the first entry in the Dune-verse opened in theatres. Denis Villeneuve directs a cast that includes Timothee Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Javier Bardem, Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson.
MGM and United Artist Releasing’s No Time to Die nabbed third place with $6.2 million, which pushes the spy film’s total to $143.1 million. The film, which marks Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, will be available to rent on digital platforms next week, just 31 days after it opened in cinemas.
Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage took fourth position on the charts, with $4.5 million. The symbiote sequel has earned $197 million state-side.
20th Century Studios’ animated adventure Ron’s Gone Wrong rounds out the top five, earning $3.6 million. That takes its domestic haul to a doleful $17.6 million.