(CNN) — Marvel’s “Eternals” opened with a $71 million domestic box office launch this weekend, Disney announced, making it the 4th highest opening of the pandemic despite less than favorable reviews from critics.
The number comes close to “Shang-Chi’s” $75.3 million Labor Day weekend opening, but the next few weekends will give a better idea if “Eternals” will gain the same momentum. November is also a busy month for the box office, with openings for “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “King Richard” starring Will Smith.
“It will be a real test of the film’s resilience, and how much reviews actually do matter,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a unique franchise where reviews don’t matter much, Dergarabedian said, as die-hard fans will still rush to watch opening weekends and have the final say in a movie’s success.
“No matter the reviews, no matter the release date, (fans) are going to show up in big numbers,” Dergarabedian said. “And it is a rare thing indeed to have that.”
Marvel movies account for three of the top four pandemic era opening weekends, including “Black Widow” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” The two films were among the three top grossing films this year, raking in over $233 million and $183 million, respectively.
“Eternals” brought in $30.7 domestically on opening day Friday, including Thursday’s previews. Early projections had the movie earning $75 million over the weekend.
“Eternals,” directed by Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, features a star-studded ensemble cast, including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan and Don Lee. The film introduces a group of immortal aliens who have been tasked with protecting Earth from “the Deviants.”
But despite the household names on the cast list, the movie failed to win over critics. At 48% on Rotten Tomatoes, it is the only movie by Marvel to have a “rotten” score on the site. That didn’t stop the successful box office opening, and audiences were more forgiving, rating it at 81%.
The success of “Eternals” this month is a good sign for a strong box office over the next two months in the wake of record-breaking October, which was the biggest grossing overall month of the pandemic era in North America.
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