‘Eternals’ Energizes Box Office With $71 Million Opening

Chloé Zhao’s blockbuster sits among the top 5 openings of the year, but faces weakest reception in MCU history

Photo: Marvel Studios

There’s good news and bad news for Marvel Studios’ “Eternals.” The good news is that despite having the weakest reviews in franchise history, the Chloé Zhao blockbuster has posted a strong opening weekend of $71 million from 4,090 locations.

It’s a few notches down from the $75.8 million three-day opening for Marvel’s September release, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” but “Eternals” sits just above the $70 million opening of “F9” as the fourth-highest opening weekend this year. It also is enough to push overall grosses back above $100 million for the fourth time since the start of October, a benchmark movie theaters are hoping to consistently clear as they aim to make Q4 2021 their first profitable quarter since the pandemic began.

Globally, “Eternals” also added $90.7 million from 46 countries, bringing its global launch to $161.7 million. That’s just behind the $167 million global opening earned in 2018 by “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and stands as the second-highest global total posted in a single weekend this year by a Hollywood release. It’s just shy of the $163 million earned by “F9” in May, which earned $134 million from its early opening in China.

That’s bad news for “Eternals,” which won’t play in China due to backlash against Zhao for comments she made about growing up in the country during the press tour for “Nomadland.”

More troubling is the reception for “Eternals”. Along with a 48% critics score and 81% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, “Eternals” is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to see its CinemaScore grade sink to a B. The previous franchise-low was a B+ for “Thor” in 2011, a grade that was also earned by “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” and “The Suicide Squad” this year.

While “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” legged out well last month, “The Suicide Squad” failed to draw in audiences outside of hardcore DC Comics fans and saw sharp drops in ticket sales after opening weekend. As with all superhero films, diehards turned out for “Eternals” this weekend; but the tepid audience reception could spell problems next weekend if the turnout from the wider moviegoer base decides to skip this time around.

Warner Bros./Legendary’s “Dune” finished second for the weekend, adding $7.6 million in its third weekend for a running domestic total of just under $84 million. With $330 million grossed worldwide, the film stands as as a personal best for director Denis Villeneuve.

MGM’s “No Time to Die” finished third with $6.1 million, bringing the Bond film’s total to $143 million domestic and $667 million worldwide, $54 million shy of the $721 million total earned by “F9” earlier this year.

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is in fourth with $4.4 million and a domestic total of $197 million, putting it $9 million shy of the domestic total earned by Sony’s last big hit, “Bad Boys For Life” just before the pandemic hit in early 2020. Overseas, the film added $11.4 million from 54 markets to bring its total to $424.6 million. 20th Century’s “Ron’s Gone Wrong” completed the top 5 with $3.6 million, giving it a total of $17.6 million domestic and $46.5 million worldwide.

The one new release absent from the charts is Netflix’s “Red Notice,” which was given a one-week run in around 700 theaters ahead of its release on streaming this week. But as with its other films dating back to “Roma” in 2018, Netflix is not disclosing box office numbers for the film.