ETERNALS dominated the weekend with a $71M opening, a solid result for the pandemic era. However, some pundits say that this performance is a disappointment, coming in at the lower end of pre-opening expectations that had run to $85M or higher. Two factors seemed to hold back the gross.
First, ETERNALS is the worst reviewed Marvel film of all time, sporting a “47% Fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes. Second, and perhaps more important, it is a fourth Marvel movie to open in the last four months, coming on the heels of BLACK WIDOW (7/9), SHANG-CHI, AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS (9/3), and VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE (10/1). This aggressive, once-a-month release pattern may have left Marvel fans a bit exhausted with the genre. Coupled with the poor reviews, ETERNALS may have been viewed as “one you could afford to miss.”
With little help from other titles, the three-day gross for all films in the release was $110.5M, 90% of the same weekend in 2019. SPENCER was the other new movie that opened wide (more than 1000 locations), and it only mustered $2.1M for a weak eighth-place finish. DUNE continued to turn out audiences, coming in second place with $7.6M in its third weekend. NO TIME TO DIE came in third with $6.2M in its fifth week in theatres, a drop of only 22% compared with its results from last weekend.
Looking forward, this weekend’s 90% compared with the same film week from 2019 may be the highest we see through the rest of the year. The combination of a weaker slate of holiday movies this year and very high comps from 2019 (FROZEN 2, KNIVES OUT, JUMANJI 2, and STAR WARS EPISODE IX) will make 2019’s Thanksgiving and Christmas very difficult competition. The new movies opening next week – CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG and BELFAST – are not expected to generate much business.