Marvel has the four biggest box office debuts of 2021. The latest, though, is the lowest, barely meeting its pre-release projections.
Coming in just below expectations, which estimated a domestic tally between $75 and $80 million, Marvel’s Eternals barely topped $71 million. The only films to do better in their first three days since the pandemic began are Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($90 million), Black Widow ($80 million), and Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings ($75 million) — all Marvel comic-book brands.
Internationally, Eternals took in another $90.7 million to bring its global launch an impressive $161.7 million.
By pandemic standards, Eternals‘ $71 million is strong. The only non-Marvel movie to come close was F9: The Fast Saga (also $70M). Other top openers range from the low-$30Ms to mid-$50Ms.
But by Marvel standards, that’s cause for concern, particularly since it’s coupled with the first-ever “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes (49%) and the lowest Cinemascore audience grade of any MCU entry (a “B”).
(Personally, I admired Eternals a great deal — my review — in part for the risks it takes, the kind that many may have soured to.)
Eternals may have fallen victim to some Marvel fatigue as well. Not only is it the third MCU theatrical entry in a four-month stretch, it also follows three Marvel series that dominated the first half of the calendar year on streamer Disney Plus (WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki).
Given how attendance trended down day-to-day (indicative of the low audience grade), a poor word-of-mouth could lead to a steep drop-off moving forward.
Even so, no one else came close to Eternals over the first frame of November. At second was Dune with $7.6M ($83.9M total domestic), No Time to Die third at $$6.2M ($143.1M total domestic), Venom 2 fourth with $4.5M ($197M domestic total), and the animated family film Ron’s Gone Wrong fifth with $3.6M ($17.6M total domestic).
For the year, Shang-Chi reigns supreme with a domestic total of $223.8 million. It’s still the only movie to break the $200M barrier in North America.
In limited release, Oscar-hopeful Spencer — about a fateful Christmas weekend in the life of Princess Diana, starring Kristen Stewart in the title role — took in a respectable $2.1 million on 1000 screens as it begins its Awards Season campaign.
Also in indie news, Wes Anderson‘s The French Dispatch finished 6th with $2.6 million in its third week of progressive expansion, bringing its domestic take to $8.5M.
Marvel still has two big releases left for 2021: the holiday-themed series Hawkeye on Disney Plus this Thanksgiving, and the holiday season theatrical run of Spider-Man: No Way Home that begins on December 17.