“Eternals,” one of Marvel’s most ambitious efforts to expand its superhero universe, arrived in theaters with about $71 million in ticket sales over the weekend, according to studio estimates.
By most studios’ box-office standards, the opening was enviable. Only three other films have debuted better during the pandemic: “Black Widow” ($80.3 million), “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($75.3 million) and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” ($90 million). But for Marvel’s well-oiled blockbuster machine, the “Eternals” launch in some ways constituted a bump in the road in an unparalleled 26-film streak.
Going into the weekend, forecasts had been only slightly higher at about $75 million domestically. More concerning for the Walt Disney Co. was the mixed audience response to Chloé Zhao’s 157-minute movie about an immortal race of superheroes. The film is the first in the Marvel “cinematic universe” to rank “rotten” in Rotten Tomatoes’ aggregate critic score, with only 47% of reviews considered positive. Audiences also gave it a lower grade — a “B” CinemaScore — than any previous MCU entry.