Chloe Zhao's Eternals rewired the Marvel Cinematic Universe's DNA. The epic spanned thousands of years, journeying into ancient civilizations through a Marvel Studios lens that connected to a present-day apocalyptic narrative. Boasting a cast that included A-Listers and award-winning actors such as Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden on top of the golden stamp of approval from Marvel President Kevin Feige, Eternals appeared primed for success hitherto undreamt of.
While Eternals was far from a failure, the immortal ensemble's first installment left a lot to be desired.
The film is currently the only Marvel Studios picture to receive a rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes and also raked in the lowest opening weekend domestic box office for an MCU film since 2015's Ant-Man. Despite those underwhelming numbers, Eternals proved to be a high-demand property with its record-breaking Disney+ debut.
Three months after it was released in theaters, Eternals has officially exited cinemas in the United States, and its receipt is not much to write home about.
Eternals' Underwhelming Box Office
Eternals ends its domestic run as the second-worst performing movie in Marvel Studios' 14-year history.
Chloe Zhao's epic leaves theaters with a $164.9 million return domestically, $30 million more than Marvel Studios' lowest domestic haul in 2008's The Incredible Hulk ($134M). Eternals also falls $60 million short of fellow Fall 2021 MCU release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which boasted $224 million at the domestic box office.
Fellow rookie ensemble picture, 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, has over double Eternals' domestic box office with $333 million.
Internationally, Eternals has crossed $400 million, placing it comfortably over popular projects like Captain America: The First Avenger and Black Widow.
What's Next for Eternals?
An Eternals sequel remains unconfirmed, but these numbers shouldn't influence franchise plans too much.
Pandemic or not, Eternals was always going to be an ambitious release. Not only is the IP very niche, but marketing material presented it as an uber-serious installment into the colorful and charismatic world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Mix in polarizing reviews and COVID-19 concerns, and Chloe Zhao's squad had an uphill battle unlike anything an MCU installment has faced before.
With all those factors working against it, Eternals still managed to churn out a decent return. Its box office is nothing to brag about, but it is far from an outlier.
Regardless of the hurdles, the biggest thing Marvel Studios can take away from these numbers is how crucial it is to simply make a good movie. Film is subjective, and many praise Eternals for its unique ambition and impressive narrative, but Shang-Chi debuted two months prior with essentially identical obstacles and hauled in $60 million more domestically.
Marvel Studios returns to theaters on May 6 with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Until then, fans can stream Eternals now on Disney+.