Marvel’s “Eternals” will easily top the domestic box office this weekend. The film took in $30.7 million on Thursday night previews and Friday showings from 4,090 screens, on its way to a projected three-day haul of $69.5 million.
Should that estimate hold, “Eternals” will score the fifth-best opening weekend during the pandemic era, behind Universal’s “F9: The Fast Saga” ($70 million), Marvel’s own “Black Widow” ($80.3 million) and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($75.3 million) and reigning champion “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” ($90 million). However, “Eternals” is coming in a bit shy of earlier industry projections, which had the MCU’s latest pegged to open closer to $75 million.
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Reviews for the film have been less than favorable. “Eternals” is the only Marvel movie to draw a “rotten” rating on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, with only 49%. Audiences are following with an only slightly warmer response, with the film receiving a “B” CinemaScore. While the grade indicates mild approval from the viewing public, it is far from the usual enthusiasm that meets other MCU entries. A “B” is the lowest grade that a film in the franchise has received from the audience-surveying market research firm; the first “Thor” entry received a “B+” in 2011, while all other Marvel films have landed in the “A” range.
Putting it plainly, “Eternals” is being received like no other MCU film has before. While its opening day numbers are certainly substantial, the film’s performance over the remainder of its opening three days, and its subsequent holds in the weeks ahead, will reflect how less-than-stellar word-of-mouth can impact a Marvel Studios production’s ultimate box office performance.
Variety‘s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote in his review: “To me, there are three top-tier team superhero movies: the first ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’ ‘Eternals’ is a fluid and sometimes bedazzling entertainment I’d place on the next tier, because it never transcends its conventionality and makes you go ‘Damn!'”
Directed by Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, “Eternals” follows an alien race sworn to protect mankind from cosmic beings called Deviants. The film’s massive ensemble cast includes Gemma Chan, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Richard Madden and Kit Harington.
With no other prospective blockbusters releasing this weekend, the domestic box office’s runner-up slot will be won by the third weekend of “Dune.” The Warner Bros. and Legendary production took in $2.25 million on Friday and looks to expand its domestic cume to $83.4 million this weekend. Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel crossed the $300 million mark at the global box office earlier this week, an impressive number for a movie that was simultaneously released on HBO Max. A sequel was officially greenlit after the film’s opening weekend, with many members of the original’s ensemble, including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson, expected to return for the follow-up.
MGM and UAR’s “No Time to Die” looks to take third. Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond is continuing to put up impressive holds since its opening in early October. The film is projected to draw $5.78 million, a mere 25% drop from its previous weekend.
Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is headed for fourth. The Columbia Pictures film is projected to earn $4.1 million over the weekend, bringing its domestic cume to $196.6 million through Sunday. The symbiote sequel should cross the $200 million mark at the domestic box office in the coming week, becoming only the second release to hit that landmark after Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($223 million total).
20th Century Studios’ animated adventure “Ron’s Gone Wrong” will round out the top five. Though the family movie tanked in its opening two weeks ago, drawing $7.3 million, audiences received the film warmly and assigned the movie an “A” CinemaScore rating. The film looks to earn a $2.86 million three-day haul, only a 24% drop from its sophomore weekend.
Also opening this weekend is “Spencer,” Pablo Larraín’s biographical drama about Princess Diana. The Neon release is projected to draw $1.95 million from 996 theaters. Many predict that the film will be a major player in the coming awards season, with Kristen Stewart’s lead performance drawing strong support in the best actress race.
Along with “Spencer,” the arthouse box office is also continuing to show signs of life with the third weekend of Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch.” The Searchlight Pictures release is projected to drop a measly 2% with a $2.49 million three-day gross from 1,205 screens. The film had a robust debut with its limited opening two week ago, earning the best per-theater average of any domestic opening during the pandemic.
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