Marvel’s “Eternals,” from director Chloé Zhao, earned $9.5 million at the box office in Thursday preview screenings that began at 6:00 p.m. It opens on 4,090 screens on Friday.
That’s the third highest-grossing preview total for the year, behind only Marvel’s “Black Widow” ($13.2 million) and Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” ($11.6 million) from last month, and it just beat out the total for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” back in September, which made $8.8 million in its previews.
“Eternals” is the latest entry in the MCU and has even surpassed pre-sales for the last MCU movie, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” bringing in $13 million so far, according to Fandango. But it’s also the first MCU movie to face middling reviews and receive a green “Rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. TheWrap’s box office preview for the film suggested that while those reviews may not hurt its performance in its opening weekend, it may struggle to sustain in its second weekend.
“Shang-Chi” made $8.8 million at the Thursday box office back in September, and went on to gross $75.8 million in its three-day opening. And despite the weak reviews, box office trackers have remained consistent in thinking “Eternals” will fall in a similar range and approach between $75-80 million in its opening. Marvel’s “Black Widow” back in July made $13.2 million and made $80 million in its theatrical debut, as well as $60 million globally by airing on Disney+. The “Venom” sequel started at $11.6 million and wound up with a $90 million opening weekend.
Internationally, “Eternals” also opened on Thursday in 25 additional markets, including Australia, Brazil and Mexico, taking the full total to 39 material markets to date. In that time, it’s made an estimated $19.8 million to date, which the studio said is +117% ahead of “Shang-Chi” and +19% ahead of “Black Widow” on a like-for-like basis. It will open in other markets such as the UK and Japan on Friday.
“Eternals” is directed by “Nomadland” filmmaker and Oscar winner Chloé Zhao. The film tells the story of celestial beings who for all of humanity’s existence on Earth have been tasked with protecting the fate of the planet from alien monsters called Deviants.
“Eternals” introduces a deep cast of characters and protagonists, none of whom have appeared in previous Marvel films and who are more obscure in terms of Marvel comic lore. They’re played by a cast that includes Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan and Ma Dong-seok.
Also opening on 996 theaters in North America this weekend is Neon’s “Spencer,” a Princess Diana biopic that stars Kristen Stewart and is directed by Pablo Larraín.