“Eternals” fails to dazzle at the box office as fans bash it with the worst reviews, calling it a disappointment even by Marvel’s own standards.
Disney’s superhero adventure debuted over the weekend with $71 million at the box office. That’s a clear underachievement by blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was projected as the fourth biggest domestic debut of the pandemic, but still, it got an underwhelming response from the fans.
Marvel movies rarely go missing at the box office. All 26 MCU movies have opened with No. 1 in North America, and many recent pre-pandemic projects have sky-rocketed to the $1 billion mark globally. As a result, box office critiques and comic book fanatics always expect Marvel’s entries to generate more than $100 million in their opening Showtime. Anything less, even by Marvel’s own standards, is considered a misstep.
“Eternals” was rated with a “B” grade by CinemaScore, the worst of any MCU title. The movie-grading company CinemaScore conducts surveys from audiences at theaters across the US on a movie’s opening night. It’s the only Marvel film to receive a “B” grade. The first “Thor” scored a “B+” rating, while the remaining 24 titles have fallen in the “A” category.
It also got the worst Rotten Tomatoes critic score, with 48%. Although it’s a different kind of Marvel movie, Eternals still offers all the action, humor, and drama that fans are expecting from a Marvel film.
“Eternals,” unfortunately, isn’t quite amassing revenue at the box office. The big-budget adaptation, featuring some of the biggest names in the industry, including Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Kit Harington, and Richard Madden, was meekly able to achieve one of the worst opening weekends for MCU. Among all other MCU titles, including the pandemic-era releases “Black Widow” ($80 million) and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($75 million), Eternals was able to hit only $71 million.
Although, it’s a solid start in recent pandemic times to be fair. “Eternals” got the fourth-best launch behind “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” ($90 million), “Black Widow” and “Shang Chi.” So while it is labeled as jaded compared to other MCU movies, “Eternals” has sold more tickets in mere three days than nearly every film released this year.
David A. Gross, who operates the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research stated: “It’s below Marvel’s remarkable average for launching a new series, but we are still in the thin air at the top of the theatrical business.” He further added: “The movie is a creative departure for Marvel. Different is good when it keeps it fresh, but it can also shake the fan base.”
It is worth mentioning that “Eternals” debuted in the same year as three other Marvel-produced TV series on Disney Plus as Disney Plus is giving Marvel movies a big IMAX upgrade, “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “Loki,” along with two other big-screen movies “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Black Widow.” The box office results can be attributed to a clear indication that viewers have started to get tired of all superhero action. Although there’s no disagreement that comic book fare, on the big and small screen alike, is more predominant than it ever was. However, in the case of “Eternals,” it doesn’t signal that franchise monotony has come to affect Marvel once and for all.
“Eternals had very unique challenges in that, outside of Angelina Jolie, it didn’t have any big-name stars,” states Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. Adding to it, he says: “It’s not like Marvel is taking a dip. They ran into a series of heroes that absolutely nobody had heard of.”
“Eternals” didn’t fall short of Marvel’s enormous box office expectations for the fact that movie fanatics are bored of heroes wearing Spandex. Rather, it’s due to a sense of disconnection with audiences as opposed to prior entries in the popular MCU series. Reviews for “Eternals,” directed by Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao, fell short of being enthusiastic than other MCU films.
Given the unexcited reception at the box office, the decline in ticket sales between the first two weekends in theaters will reflect the degree to which Marvel can be affected by word-of-mouth at the box office. Cold reviews from fans could mean the film drops considerably in its second outing. “Shang-Chi” didn’t have a relatively better start than “Eternals,” but the well-reviewed title held its feet in succeeding weeks, pushing box office revenues to $223 million, the most of any title this year. Although, still in its early days, it is yet not known how “Eternals” will stack up to “Shang-Chi” and “Black Widow.” Nevertheless, it is expected to rank among the top 10 highest-earning films of 2021.
“Eternals” sets up the future of Marvel in a post-“Avengers: Endgame” era, one in which Tony Stark and Steve Rogers said goodbye to Earth’s Colossal heroes. A big challenge in Zhao’s film was propelling audiences to care about various new characters who weren’t as famous as Spider-Man or Black Panther. Although, that’s not a problem for Marvel’s upcoming titles in 2022 and 2023, which features characters who have become so well-recognized, including “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “The Marvels” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”
Despite being a dull performance by Eternals, Marvel may not have to wait long for its next box office blockbuster. Movie analysts believe that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” could be the first pandemic-era release to surpass $100 million revenue in its box office debut on December 17, 2021.
Moreover, the third “Spider-Man” movie featuring Tom Holland as the web-spinning hero looks all-set to become a commercial hit, especially due to trailers of the superhero movie teasing with an enticing promise of a multiverse. Fans will be able to see multiple generations of “Spider-Man” actors in a parallel world in the same movie. Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, along villains like Doctor Octopus and Electro will be in action alongside Holland.
As per Shawn Robbins, the chief analyst at Box Office Pro, talking with reference to “Captain Marvel,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home”:
“Even before the pandemic, ‘Shang-Chi’ and ‘Eternals’ were considered outside the event Marvel movies we got used to.” “Once we get to ‘Doctor Strange,’ ‘Thor,’ and ‘Black Panther,’ those are the heavy hitters,” he added.
Or, as Bock defines it: “Marvel’s upcoming slate has characters we all know and love dearly. Those films will be just fine.”
A cold and unenthusiastic reception of Eternals should not bother Marvel much as they have some big blockbusters up their sleeves. However, Marvel must take the reviews of fans seriously and analyze whether the superhero game is becoming too monotonous or otherwise!