UPDATED, Friday midday: Disney’s Eternals is heading toward a $30 million Friday, including those $9.5M previews from last night. Given that Friday is typically around 40% of the weekend, this will put the Chloé Zhao-directed movie in the $70M-$75M range from what we’ve figured. Again, this could fluctuate up or down by Saturday morning.
Do the fans keep coming out for this MCU Phase 4 title is integral in Marvel’s multi-universe storyline laid out in Shang-Chi and Disney+’s Loki and WandaVision? Audience scores were low last night from the fervent Marvel set; we’ll see how CinemaScore does tonight. In pre-pandemic times we’d be whining about a Marvel title that’s underperforming, however, exhibition isn’t complaining: There’s more to come this holiday season, and Sony/Marvel/Disney’s Spider-Man: No Way Home which will have cameos from Doctor Strange and others from the older Sam Raimi Spider-Man universe is expected to blow the roofs of movie theaters come December.
Also factor in that for a deeper-universe piece of Marvel IP, this is a really long movie. It’s one thing to have a finale like Avengers: Endgame at 3 hours and 1 minute, but something new? At 2 hours and 37 minutes, Eternals is longer than Black Panther (2:14), Captain Marvel (2:03) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2:01), and even previous November MCU titles Thor Ragnarok (2:10), Doctor Strange (1:55) and Thor: The Dark World (1:52). Longer running times means fewer rotations in auditoriums, and during a lingering pandemic, a short movie length is a key to B.O. success.
As we reported earlier, Disney lined up $100M in brand marketing partners for Eternals.
PREVOUSLY, Friday AM: Disney/Marvel’s Eternals, based on the 1976 Jack Kirby comic characters, struck up $9.5 million at the domestic box office on Thursday from previews that began at 6 p.m. That marks the third best preview night of the pandemic behind Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow in early July ($13.2M from showtimes that began at 5 p.m.) and Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($11.6M from 4 p.m.).
It’s another great result that indicates the ongoing rebound of cinema after a robust October rang up the best monthly domestic box office of the pandemic with $638M; and a fantastic start as we enter the two-month period of holiday moviegoing.
Eternals’ Thursday is also ahead of Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which grossed an $8.8M on its Thursday night. Eternals is also slightly ahead of MCU pre-pandemic November Thursday nights for Doctor Strange ($9.4M) and Thor: The Dark World ($7.1M).
Like with any superhero movie the question is how front-loaded Eternals is, but that’s an ever bigger headscratcher in this case because it’s the worst reviewed MCU title to date at 49% Rotten — not to mention it has a running time of 2 hours and 37 minutes. Bad reviews didn’t stop the Venom movies from reaching great openings; the first movie scored an $80.2M domestic opening and the latest Venom 2 holds the best opening during the pandemic with $90M. Both of those titles received B+ CinemaScores. Already, Eternals in last night’s PostTrak earned a low 75% positive and 3 1/2 stars from general audiences, and a 57% recommend. Kids under 12 rated the film better with four stars and 90% positive, and a 65% definite recommend. Audience turnout was 42% men over 25, 22% men under 25, 21% females over 25, and 14% females under 25. We’ll update you as these Comscore/Screen Engine exits change throughout the weekend.
Tracking has Eternals opening $75M-plus at 4,090 theaters. The Chloé Zhao-directed movie is the fourth MCU title to play November, the previous top openings being 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok ($122.7M), Thor: The Dark World ($85.7M) and Doctor Strange ($85M).
In regards to Thursday night previews’ share of opening-day B.O., Shang-Chi‘s repped 30% of its $29.5M Friday, while Thor: The Dark World‘s repped 22% of its $31.89M Friday. Doctor Strange‘s previews repped 29% of its $32.58M Friday.
Warner Bros and Legendary’s Dune, even though it was in homes on HBO Max, led in its second week, grossing $22.5M, off 58% from its first week of $53.8M. Pic’s running total through two weeks is $76.3M after grossing $1.25M Thursday, -34%. Some rivals see it shy of $100M at the domestic B.O., but I’m giving the benefit of the doubt here to Warner Bros, which got the previous Legendary pandemic title Godzilla vs. Kong past the century mark. Dune loses its Imax screens and PLFs to Eternals this weekend. The Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi reboot of the Frank Herbert novel has 17 days left on HBO Max.