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Is 'Eternals' a Hit or Miss for Marvel Studios?

By Matt Chieco

When 'Eternals' was first announced at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, people were not very familiar with the comics it was going to be based on. However, over the last two years, it has become one of the most anticipated movies for Phase 4 and 2021. Yet, as the movie hits theaters this weekend, a new topic has surrounded Chloé Zhao’s Marvel debut.

The 26th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now facing mixed reviews from critics. It currently holds a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest and only rotten score for a Marvel Studios film. While some critics attribute the bad reviews to a not very interesting story, others believe the lack of Marvel DNA is refreshing to see. But will the Rotten Tomatoes score hurt the movie's box office numbers? And will going in with low expectations help the movie?

'Eternals' made a little under $10 million in previews (the third-best during the pandemic) and is expected to make around $75 million+ on its opening weekend. However, as we've seen over the last few months, studio projections have been off. 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' was predicted to make around $45 to $50 million on its opening weekend but made a whopping $94 million over the Labor Day four-day weekend. Even 'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' was predicted to only make $60 million, yet as we all know, the movie went on to make $90 million and set the record for the highest three-day opening weekend during the pandemic.

Determining if 'Eternals' will be a big hit or an even bigger flop hinges on how many movie theater seats are filled. Fandango is reporting that the blockbuster is now the second-best preseller among this year’s advance ticket sales, only behind 'Black Widow.' The movie also has a strong showing overseas and is tracking well with males, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian audiences due to the impressive representation shown in the film.

While the reviews might deter some people, the opposite just might occur. In stark contrast to the rotten critics' score, 'Eternals' currently holds an 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. When critics and audiences are divided, people tend to watch the movie just to see who is right. The saying “any press is good press” rings very true here. The more people who read the headlines, the more tickets are bought to see who is right, resulting in increased box office numbers.

The original projections were around $80 million, but due to the reviews, the studio has since lowered those projections. In my personal opinion, I think the studio may have reacted too quickly, but by the end of the weekend, we will all know the answer.

Marvel Studios' 'Eternals' is now in theaters.

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