"Eternals" will keep its crown at the domestic box office, as the Marvel entry is projected to repeat as No. 1 with an estimated $27 million gross in its second weekend.
Should current projections pan out, the MCU entry will fall approximately 62% in its sophomore outing. Measured against the second weekends of other Marvel Studios releases this year, that's a much steeper drop than the 52% sink of "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" and a healthier one than the 67% tumble "Black Widow" took. However, that latter film simultaneously debuted as a rental on Disney Plus through the streamer's Premier Access program, a release strategy that undoubtedly impacted its ultimate box office performance.
'Eternals' Leads Box Office Over 'Clifford the Big Red Dog'
Box Office: 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' Collects $2.3 Million on Opening Day
With Everyone Fighting Over 'Eternals,' What's Next for Marvel's Future?
"Eternals" is headed for one of the larger second weekend drops in the MCU's eleven-year history. "Black Widow" outstanding, the only other franchise entries to fall at least 62% in their sophomore outings are 2018's "Ant-Man and the Wasp" and 2017's "Spider-Man: Homecoming," both of which were competing against much busier summer seasons.
The slightly steeper fall for "Eternals" may stand as a byproduct of its mixed response. Critics did not take to the film - it is the only MCU entry to receive a "Rotten" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences were a bit more favorable, assigning an MCU-low CinemaScore of "B," indicating mild approval from the viewing public. The somewhat muted numbers for "Eternals" offer an unprecedented demonstration of how a less-than-enthusiastic response to a Marvel film has a notable, though far from crippling, impact on its box office performance.
Directed by Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, "Eternals" follows an alien race sworn to protect mankind from cosmic beings called Deviants. The film's massive ensemble cast includes Gemma Chan, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Richard Madden and Kit Harington.
Opening in second this weekend is Paramount's family-friendly film "Clifford the Big Red Dog." The adaptation of Norman Bridwell's children's book series of the same name is on its way to a $14.6 million three-day haul. With "Clifford" pulling in $2.3 million from theaters on its opening day Wednesday, the film is now on track to gross $20 million over the five-day Veterans Day holiday window, performing above its original estimates of $15 million to $17 million.
"Clifford" follows 12-year-old Emily Elizabeth, who is gifted a red puppy that soon grows to become a giant, 10-foot tall dog. Emily and Clifford soon embark on a wild adventure across New York City. Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Tony Hale and Kenan Thompson star in the film. Comedy aficionado Walt Becker directs.
"Clifford" has a 48% on Rotten Tomatoes, but has fared much better with audiences. The film received an "A" CinemaScore rating. While the family film debuted simultaneously on Paramount Plus, strong word-of-mouth may help give "Clifford" more staying power in theaters than the usual day-and-date release.
In his review, Variety critic Owen Gleiberman wrote: "'Clifford the Big Red Dog' becomes a rowdy chase film - as agreeable as Clifford himself, as simultaneously cute and in-your-face, and as genially random in its ability to create chaos."
Headed for third is Warner Bros. and Legendary's adaptation of Frank Herbert's "Dune." The Denis Villeneuve-helmed blockbuster is projected to draw a $5.58 million haul in its fourth outing. That's only a 28% drop-off from its previous weekend, an impressive hold for a film that was simultaneously released on HBO Max. Much of the chatter around "Dune" has emphasized the significance of seeing the sci-fi epic in a theatrical setting. The film is projected to increase its domestic gross to $93 million by Sunday and could potentially cross the $100 million mark in the next week. A sequel has already been greenlit.
UAR and MGM's "No Time to Die" will take fourth, as the film is projected to earn $4.51 million in its sixth weekend. Though the James Bond entry is now available to rent on premium video-on-demand in North America, the blockbuster is only dropping a measly 25%.
Rounding out the top five is the umpteenth outing of Sony's "Venom: Let There Be Carnage." The symbiote sequel had the best hold of the weekend by far, dropping a mere 14% from its previous outing. The film is on track to cross the $200 million mark at the domestic box office today, only the second release to reach that achievement during the pandemic era after "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."
On the prestige scene, Focus Features is opening Kenneth Branagh's "Belfast" across 580 screens this weekend. The film grossed $640,000 on Friday on its way to a projected $1.63 million opening. Its "A-" CinemaScore and heavy awards buzz bode well for its upcoming expansion.
Meanwhile, Searchlight Pictures' "The French Dispatch" continues to run circles around other arthouse releases. Wes Anderson's latest is projected to drop 35% in its fourth outing for a gross of $1.67 million. The winsome omnibus film will pass the $10 million mark this weekend.
Finally, Neon's "Spencer" added 269 locations this weekend. The drama earned $480,000 on Friday, falling 39% from its opening day a week ago. Awards buzz for Kristen Stewart's lead turn as Princess Diana could keep drawing audiences throughout the fall season.
Best of Variety
The Fresh Prince Has a Memoir (And It's an Instant Best-Seller)
What's Coming to Disney Plus in November 2021
Everything Coming to Netflix in November 2021