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Why Eternals Is Already Looking Like Marvel's Biggest 2021 Movie

The Eternals cast assembled
(Image credit: Disney)

While the domestic box office isn’t anything near what it was before the pandemic started, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the Marvel Studios release schedule. Marvel is on the verge of releasing its third movie theatrically this year, and it could end up being its biggest yet. Pre-sales for Eternals on day one have outpaced both Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Deadline is reporting that Eternals has already racked up $2.6 million in ticket sales in just the first 24 hours of tickets being available for the November release. This compares to Black Widow which did $2 million in that period and Shang-Chi which did $1.4.

Certainly, this is great news for Eternals. While the movie has a rock solid cast, and it is a Marvel movie after all, it’s also based on characters that have historically not been super popular even within the comic books on which they're based. It was difficult to gage just how interested the audiences would be. 

Combine the lack of brand awareness with the fact that Eternals just looks and feels like something a bit different for Marvel, likely due to the influence of director Chloe Zhao, and you have a film that at least had the potential to be something of an oddity in the MCU.  Based on the first 24 hours, however, it seems clear that if fans are curious about Eternals, they are, at the very least, curious enough to buy a ticket so they’re among the first to satisfy that curiosity. 

And Eternals certainly does look like something a bit different. While it’s an ensemble cast of heroes not that unlike the Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy, beyond that, there doesn’t seem to be much comparison. Even now it’s difficult to tell from trailers just what Eternals is even about

Of course, the first 24 hours of ticket sales don’t tell the whole story. While Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings fell behind Black Widow when it came to pre-sale and opening weekend ticket sales, the movie eventually out performed Black Widow at the domestic box office. 

Although, part of that could have been simply because Shang-Chi was released in September and not July. It’s likely that as time goes on, as more people become vaccinated, there are simply more people willing to go to the movies. With Eternals set to open in November there will likely be even more people willing to make that trip, so Eternals could end up out grossing them all based more on release schedule than anything else. 

Of course, even if the timing is a major factor that just means all signs are even better for the next Marvel movie, that isn’t entirely a Marvel movie, as Spider-Man: No Way Home is arriving in December and looks to be ready to out sell them all.  

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.