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That’s the third-best preview number of the year to date, and ahead of fellow Marvel event pic Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ($8.8 million) but behind Black Widow ($13.2 million) and Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($11.6 million).
The big question: To what degree will middling reviews hurt Eternals? So far, the movie has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score — 50 percent — of any title in the wildly successful Marvel Studios Cinematic Universe.
Disney and Marvel are projecting a weekend debut of $75 million in North America.
At the end of this summer, Shang-Chi opened to a dazzling $94.7 million domestically over the four-day Labor Day weekend, including $75.4 million for the three days. Venom: Let There Be Carnage set a new three-day benchmark in late September when opening to $90 million.
Both tentpoles received an exclusive theatrical release, as is the case with Eternals.
Eternals is the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the third entry in Marvel’s Phase Four. The film stars a diverse ensemble cast, including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie.
The film follows a group of heroes from beyond the stars who have protected the Earth since the dawn of man and are forced to reunite in order to defeat monstrous creatures called the Deviants.
The big-budget tentpole is Zhao’s follow-up to her Oscar-winning Nomadland. She also directed The Rider.
Eternals is also launching day-and-date in most international markets — with the exception of China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam — and has collected $19.8 million in its first two days from select market openings Wednesday and Thursday. The event pic is also waiting a week to roll out in Russia because of new COVID-related lockdowns.
The movie has been banned in Gulf nations Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait after Disney declined to make certain edits requested by censors. Sources suggest the decision was likely made over the inclusion of a same-gender couple in the film and the MCU’s first gay superhero. In one scene, the character, Phastos (Henry), and his onscreen husband, Ben (Haaz Sleiman), share a kiss.
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