Were you worried that Eternals’ middling reviews would somehow affect Marvel’s ability to make millions upon millions of dollars? Let me put your mind at ease. The movie, which debuted this past Friday, earned $US71 (A$96) million domestically over the weekend, a staggering amount of money that’s almost certainly still managed to leave a lot of wealthy Marvel executives dismayed.
While Eternals was still #1 at the box office, crushing the #2-ranked Dune by more than $US63 (A$85) million, the film was estimated to make between $US75-80 (A$101-108) million. That gives Eternals only the fourth highest-grossing opening weekend since the pandemic began, and the top three are all other Marvel superhero films — Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings with $US75.4 (A$101.62) million, Black Widow with $US80.4 (A$108.36) million, and Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage topping the chart with $US90 (A$121) million, all according to Box Office Mojo. For what was clearly supposed to be Marvel Studios’ first flagship Phase 4 film, with a giant cast of stars and directed by Academy Award-winner Chloé Zhao, that’s got to be a disappointment.
Eternals’ poor reviews are the most likely culprit, especially since it’s the only movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe currently sitting on Rotten Tomatoes with an actual rotten tomato icon, with only 48% positive reviews. How much audiences take stock in Rotten Tomatoes is of course up for debate but the fact that the Eternals characters have had virtually no pop culture presence before the movie — they’ve barely even been in Marvel’s comics, for goodness’ sake — surely didn’t help, especially with their vaguely defined… everything. But really, as many critics have pointed out, the film’s biggest flaw is that Zhao’s interesting film turns into another Marvel biff-bang-pow VFX beat-em-up at the end.
I’ve said this before, but I wonder how many nights Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige has lain awake in his bed, staring at the ceiling, and cursing the former Marvel television department for screwing up the Inhumans so, so, so badly. They’re the much more interesting version of the Eternals and have many more comic stories to draw movie inspiration from. Sure, the two Jack Kirby creations are both weird, but the Inhumans are more compellingly weird. And tell me, which superhero sounds more interesting: The one who shoots laser bolts out of his fingers or the one who can level a city with a whisper?