Disney has guaranteed theatrical exhibitors a 45-day window of exclusivity with Chloe Zhao's upcoming superhero epic Eternals. The film, which introduces an ancient and powerful race of beings who have been secretly living in the Marvel Universe for thousands of years, is the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe following the record-breaking success of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Eternals boasts an all-star cast, but in light of disappointing box office performances by virtually every movie released in the pandemic era, Disney had been holding off on making specific plans public, likely waiting to see the Shang-Chi receipts.
The success of Shang-Chi also seems to have emboldened Sony, who moved up the Spider-Man spinoff Venom. Still a fall release, it will now drop in the first week of October, two weeks earlier than its previous date.
While big-budget blockbusters like Black Widow and The Suicide Squad seem to have been hurt by a day-and-date digital release, last night's announcement that Halloween Kills will arrive on Peacock the same day as in theaters suggests that more modestly-budgeted movies are still seeing benefits from a broader opening weekend audience.
Marvel is pretty well-positioned; not only did Shang-Chi do well, but Eternals was recently cited as the most-anticipated movie of the fall in a poll of moviegoers. It had to beat out No Time to Die, Dune, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Sony's Venom: Let There Be Carnage to top the list.
Per the official synopsis, The Eternals features an exciting new team of Super Heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind's most ancient enemy, The Deviants
Zhao, hot off winning a Best Director Oscar for Nomadland, serves as both director and screenwriter on Eternals, along with Patrick Burleigh from a story by Ryan and Kaz Firpo, who were developing the movie for Marvel before Zhao took over.
The Eternals cast includes Angelina Jolie as Thena, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Gemma Chan as Sersi, and Barry Keoghan as Druig. Kit Harington also stars as Dane Whitman, a.k.a. the Marvel Comics hero Black Knight.
Eternals is currently set for release on November 5th.