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Eternals opens with $ 71 million, but audience reviews are mixed.

Jake Coyle | Associated Press

NEW YORK – The Eternals, one of Marvel’s most ambitious attempts to expand the superhero universe, has arrived in theaters with ticket sales worth about $ 71 million over the weekend, the studio estimates.

At the box office for most studios, the opening was enviable. Only three other films made their best debuts 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 Massacre ($ 90 million). dollars). But for the well-oiled Marvel blockbuster, the launch of The Eternals was, in a sense, a blow to an unprecedented 26-film series.

Ahead of the weekend, forecasts were only slightly higher at around $ 75 million domestically. More worrisome for Walt Disney Co. there was mixed audience reaction to Chloe Zhao’s 157-minute film about the immortal race of superheroes. This film is the first in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be rated Rotten by the Rotten Tomatoes cumulative critique, with only 47% of reviews being positive. Viewers also gave it a lower “B” CinemaScore – than any previous MCU release.

But from the start, The Eternals was a less planned direction for Marvel. Drawing on Zhao, whose Nomad Land earned Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards earlier this year, the comic book factory attracted a renowned director with more to do with art house realism than computer spectacle. The story also introduces a lesser known alien class of superheroes whose existence spans the entire history of mankind. With a large and varied cast including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani, The Eternals have dared to present many performances, including the MCU’s first deaf superhero in Lauren Ridloff and the first superhero sex scene not previously seen in the franchise …

David A. Gross, chief executive of consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research, estimates that the negative reception of The Eternals cost him a modest 10% of the box office. He still believes superhero movies are helping to rebuild cinemas. Marvel films make up the four major discoveries of the pandemic.

“Eternals are by no means a problem,” Gross said in an email. “The film doesn’t connect like any other Marvel film, but the box office is high and it maintains its October sales.”

Eternals, which cost an estimated $ 200 million to produce, has expanded overseas, raising $ 90.7 million in 46 international territories. However, the film was never shown in China and is not expected to be released in the future, despite being directed by a Chinese-born director. Marvel’s previous release, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the studio’s first Asian superhero film, was also denied permission to air in China.

The reasons for the refusal are not clear, but China has severely censored the films it allows to be released. Relations between the United States and China have escalated in recent years. It is also widely noted that Zhao said in a 2013 interview that China is “a place where lies are everywhere.” In April, her Oscar victories were not reported by the state media in China, and references to them were removed from the Internet in China.

Another major weekend release is Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana. The acclaimed drama, which is expected to win Stewart her first Oscar nomination, kicked off in 996 spots and grossed $ 2.1 million for Neon.

The rest of the best draws of the weekend are in the past.

In the third weekend after release, Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic Dune grossed $ 7.6 million, for a total of $ 83.9 million. Warner Bros., which announced the sequel to Dune, also released the film on HBO Max.

MGM and United Artists Releasing’s James Bond No Time to Die grossed $ 6.1 million in its fifth weekend after release, resulting in $ 143.2 million in domestic sales. After 31 days exclusively in theaters – much shorter than the three months most Bond films screened on the big screen before they could be seen at home – No Time to Die will be released Tuesday as a $ 20 VOD.

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