Marvel's Eternals has opened with $9.5 million at the box office, following Thursday Night previews of the film. Eternals is projected for a $75 million opening weekend domestically, and those Thursday night figures certainly put the film on track to hit that mark. Eternals had been tracking somewhere in the middle of Marvel Studios' 2021 release slate; it was behind Black Widow's advanced ticket sales, but ahead of those for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. With Eternals opening in 4,000 locations and capturing hold of the pop-culture zeitgeist right now, Marvel looks to be in a good position for a big post-pandemic opening.
For a recent comparison, Warner Bros. Dune opened with $5.1M on a Thursday; horror sequel Halloween Kills opened with $4.9M with its Thursday preview box office, and James Bond's No Time To Die earned $6.3M. Dune went on to earn $41M in its opening weekend (albeit with a simultaneous release on HBO Max); Halloween Kills earned approximately $50M in its opening weekend; No Time to Die walked away with $55M.
On the Marvel side of things, Venom: Let There Be Carnage earned $11.6M in Thursday previews for a $90.1M opening weekend. Shang-Chi earned $8.8M on Thursday and $75.5M over the three-day Labor Day weekend. Black Widow is still the top winner for Marvel, with a whopping $13.2M from Thursday previews and an $80.3M opening weekend box office.
Out of that list of 2021 Marvel movies, only Shang-Chi and Eternals had the daunting task of introducing new IPs to the moviegoing masses - in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic and the COVID Delta scare of early fall. Right now, it's looking like both films will be roughly in line for their opening figures - with Eternals arguably doing better, since it doesn't have the extra holiday day to earn on. However, Shang-Chi and Eternals could still end up having very divergent overall box offices, based on reviews and word-of-mouth: Eternals now holds the inglorious honor of being the worst-reviewed film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Overwhelmingly favorable audience reactions will be needed to bolster that early roadblock, and help give the film legs.
In our official Eternals review, Comicbook.com's Jamie Jirak indicastes that Eternals could be a divisive sell:
"Eternals succeeds in being a visual spectacle, but often falls flat when it comes to story... [it] will likely be one of the more divisive films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The strong characters and visuals will be enough for some fans to consider it one of the best of the franchise while others will find its messy plot and extended runtime a hard pill to swallow."
Eternals is now in theaters.