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Marvel Claims Box Office Victory Again As Eternals Opens Strong

Eternals Thena and Gilgamesh
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

It has been a weird year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the franchise’s popularity seems to be as awesome as ever, its domination over the market hasn’t been quite as clear in the numbers, as box office figures have continued to be capped by the on-going pandemic. Keeping that context in mind, though, Marvel has unleashed a string of winners since mid-year, and in the wake of Cate Shortland’s Black Widow and Destin Daniel Cretton’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, Chloé Zhao’s Eternals has kept the pattern going with its own strong opening weekend.

Check out the full Top 10 below, and join me after for analysis!

Weekend Box Office Eternals November 5-7, 2021

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

TITLEWEEKEND GROSSDOMESTIC GROSSLWTHTRS
1. Eternals$71,000,000 $71,000,000 4,090
2. Dune$7,620,000 $83,946,162 13,546
3. No Time To Die$6,180,899 $143,152,307 33,007
4. Venom: Let There Be Carnage$4,465,000 $197,007,635 52,640
5. Ron’s Gone Wrong$3,600,000 $17,577,325 82,650
6. The French Dispatch$2,600,000 $8,469,072 101,205
7. Halloween Kills$2,350,000 $89,715,075 23,098
8. Antlers$2,000,000 $7,605,908 62,800
9. Last Night In Soho$1,800,000 $7,638,635 73,016
10. The Addams Family 2$1,440,868 $54,943,101 91,807

Like Shang-Chi, Eternals wasn’t able to surpass the MCU high bar for 2021 opening weekends that was set by Black Widow when it came out in early July ($80.4 million), but it still made enough to be called the fourth most successful domestic release of the year. The reported $71 million is just enough to sneak it by Justin Lin’s F9, which made a little over $70 million when it hit theaters in late June.

This means that the Top 4 opening weekends for the year are now all Marvel Comics adaptations, as Andy Serkis’ Venom: Let There Be Carnage continues to hold the number one spot with its $90 million start last month.

What’s particularly fascinating about the performance by Eternals this weekend is the buzz factor. For the most part, film critics have demonstrated a legitimate appreciation for the quality of blockbusters made by Marvel Studios… but the latest feature from them didn’t get the same kind of warm reception. A clear indication of this is that it is presently sporting the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score in the franchise. When it comes to the MCU, however, it seems that audiences are inclined to take an “I’ll set it for myself” attitude, hence the strong ticket sales.

Eternals has been released as a theatrical exclusive (similar to Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings and unlike Black Widow), and you can expect that next week I’ll have plenty of analysis for you regarding its weekend-to-weekend performance. In 2021 it has notably been the films with hybrid release models that have taken serious dips in their sophomore Friday-to-Sundays, but in the case of Chloé Zhao’s movie the key factor will be the aforementioned buzz.

Will audiences disagree with critics, leading to influential positive word of mouth that will result in a minimal 50 percent drop? Or will there be an alignment in opinion that ends in something more in the 60-plus percent range? We’ll have to wait until next Sunday for the answer.

For now, we can say with certainty that Eternals is off to a good start. In addition to the $71 million earned domestically, the film has already raked in an additional $90.7 million from foreign territories, resulting in a worldwide total of $161.7 million thus far.

Kingo attacks a Deviant in Eternals

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

As predicted, the arrival of Eternals meant that the reign of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune at the top of the box office came to an end after two-straight weekends – but the film did a solid job continuing to sell tickets and hold on in the Top 5. Having made $83.9 million to date domestically, the science-fiction epic now ranks as the 12th biggest film of the year in North America (it sits behind Craig Gillespie’s Cruella, which made $86.1 million before the end of its big screen run in early summer).

Worldwide, Dune has made $330.4 million, which is a pretty massive deal because it means that it has cracked into the Top 10, having surpassed the $324 million made by Shawn Levy’s Free Guy. If it makes another $47 million on top of its current total, it will pass Black Widow on the global chart – though it would appear that it has a limited chance to get to eighth place, as catching up to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings would mean it earning another $88 million.

Keeping the positive train going, Pablo Larrain’s Spencer is also off to an impressive start at the box office, having been released in fewer than 1,000 theaters this past weekend. The film, which features a turn by Kristen Stewart as Diana, Princess of Wales that has been earning Oscar chatter, made a debut big enough to stake a claim at the bottom of the Top 10, earning $2.1 million. With that success, it seems likely that distribution will increase, so if it’s not presently playing at a theater near you, give it some time.

Looking at the chart up top, you may have spotted the roughest box office stat from this past weekend, which is the five-spot chart slip performed by David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills. Following its great opening, the film has been on a rough downward trend in the ticket sales department, and it’s availability to stream on Peacock combined with the fact that we are now past its titular holiday has left it fading fast in the Top 10. It only made $350,000 more than Scott Cooper’s ninth-place-ranking Antlers, so it’s possible that it may disappear altogether by this time next week.

To end this weekend’s column with some good news, I’ll point you to the performance of Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch. I noted its amazing opening weekend in limited release back in late October, but this past Friday it started playing in 417 more locations, and the result is that it has jumped from tenth place to sixth place domestically. The indie film has earned $8.5 million to date, and it could very well continue to quietly add to that total as we continue to move through the coming awards season.

Looking ahead to next weekend, the biggest new release set to arrive is Walt Becker’s Clifford The Big Red Dog, which is getting simultaneously released on Paramount+. How will it compete against Eternals in its second weekend, and how will its available to stream affect its box office draw? We’ll have all of the answers for you next Sunday.

Eric Eisenberg

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.