‘Eternals’ leads box office over ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’

Director Chloe Zhao poses at the premiere for the film ‘Eternals’ in Los Angeles October 18, 2021. — Reuters pic
Director Chloe Zhao poses at the premiere for the film ‘Eternals’ in Los Angeles October 18, 2021. — Reuters pic

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LOS ANGELES, Nov 15 — Marvel’s comic book epic Eternals is once again dominating over domestic box office charts.

In its second weekend of release, the superhero adventure has collected a leading US$27.5 million (RM114.2 million) from 4,090 North American theaters. Through Sunday, Eternals crossed the US$100 million mark in the US and Canada, with box office receipts at US$118 million. Though it wouldn’t be a particularly notable benchmark in pre-Covid times, only a handful of films have surpassed US$100 million in 2021.

Eternals declined 61 per cent from its US$71 million debut, a drop that falls somewhere in between Marvel’s other pandemic releases, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (which declined 52 per cent in its sophomore outing) and Black Widow (which declined 67 per cent in its sophomore outing). Shang-Chi, like Eternals, is playing only in theaters while Black Widow premiered on Disney Plus (for US$30 on top of monthly subscription fees) on the same day it opened in cinemas. Compared to recent entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Eternals hasn’t gotten the best reviews. It is the only installment to receive a “rotten” rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s one of the few to land a CinemaScore grade lower than “A” from audiences. Those factors didn’t affect Sony’s comic book sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which has similar audience score and critic sentiment. However, moviegoers have come to develop much higher expectations (and standards) for Disney’s MCU, a franchise that is critically and commercially in a league of its own.

Speaking of Venom, the second feature film that centers on Tom Hardy’s alien symbiote became the second Covid-era release to surpass US$200 million at the domestic box office. After nearly two months in theaters, the movie placed at No. 5 with US$3.7 million from 2,538 venues, propelling revenues to US$202 million. Shang-Chi, which is the highest-grossing film of 2021 with US$224 million to date, is the only other film to cross US$200 million this year.

In second place on domestic box office charts, Paramount’s family friendly adventure Clifford the Big Red Dog pulled in US$16.4 million from 3,700 locations between Friday and Sunday. The film, which is available simultaneously on the streaming service Paramount Plus, got a jump on the weekend by opening in theaters on Wednesday, has generated US$22 million in its first five days of release.

Clifford had a decent start considering its hybrid release, though analysts believe it would have made even more money by having an exclusive theatrical window before moving to digital platforms. However, family crowds have been slow to return to cinemas because young children have only recently been able to get vaccinated against Covid-19, so Paramount wanted to couch ticket sales while boosting its nascent streaming service in the process.

“The streaming option is not helping these movies,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Without it, their value would be greater on each and every platform.” Still, he says, “this is a very solid opening in the face of difficult family moviegoing conditions.”

Dune, the sci-fi spectacle from Warner Bros. and Legendary, placed third with US$5.5 million from 3,282 screens. To date, the movie has grossed US$93 million while playing concurrently on HBO Max. — Reuters

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