Is America burning an Eternals flame?, Spencer gets the royal treatment (in a good way), and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Well, well, well. Looks like it might be Open Season on the MCU from all fronts. For real, this time. I know that literally every single time a new MCU entry comes along, the opportunistic Hot-Takers crawl out of the woodworkers to gleefully and incorrectly insist that the world’s biggest and most consistently decent entertainment franchise has finally shown its Achilles heel and is in the endgame of its cultural monopolistic dominance. But this time, there may in fact be a few cracks in the armour, albeit primarily by the studio actually trying something different rather than slavishly adhering to template, something which always goes down so well with rabid nerd fandoms. As you may already know, since major arts and culture websites now apparently resort to frivolous news pieces about Rotten Tomatoes scores to drive traffic, Eternals by Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao is the first MCU film to have a predominately negative critical reception in the franchise’s 26-film 13-year history. Crack in the armour #1.
But, I mean, that’s nothing! Critical reviews aren’t going to do jack shit to the Marvel machine! They’re bulletproof by this point, too big to fail. Surely the reviews won’t bother the opening weekend too much, especially now that we’re getting a little more into the swing of things and seen that Marvel movies can still easily dominate mid-pandemic even when they cast relative unknowns in the leads! Shang-Chi never had two Game of Thrones alumni! Well, sure, Eternals is obviously your #1 film at the Box Office this weekend and comfortably lapping the rest of the chart twice-over, but it’s done so whilst underperforming initial expectations somewhat; $71 mil compared to the low-end of $76 mil that the studio and Box Office prognosticators were hoping for. $4 mil less than Shang-Chi, $9 mil less than Black Widow, and $19 mil less than Venom 2 NO I WILL NOT LET THIS GO. Crack in the armour #2. And then, there’s the potentially fatal third crack: a “B” Cinemascore, the lowest of any MCU movie ever.
So, does this mean that Eternals is, in fact, the WORST. MCU FILM. EVER?! Is this the point where audiences finally turn their backs on Kevin Feige’s grand vision?! Is it all the damn POC woman’s fault for ruining Marvel forever?! HAS SCORSESE BEEN PROVEN RIGHT?! ARE WE FINALLY WITNESSING THAT MYTHICAL SUPERHERO FATIGUE IN ACTION?! To answer these in order: absolutely not, no, fuck off, who cares, try saying that or anything else currently flying around with your chest when Spider-Man drops in a month. It’s gonna be fine, not least cos there’s a fortnight til actual competition releases. Everybody cool your fucking testes. Y’all are why nerds and film writers have such a shitty reputation with normies.
Meanwhile, in Moderate Release, Diana Fever has yet to curdle into Diana Fatigue as Spencer, the latest effort to dramatize the tragic story of Britain’s sainted princess they definitely didn’t cruelly hound to her untimely demise, went on a French Dispatch tear. Almost literally, since it opened in just under 1,000 theatres to just under the amount of cash that Wes Anderson’s joyful dollhouse made in its expansion to similar numbers of theatres last weekend: $2.1 mil, good for eighth place, even if the PTA was a less impressive $2,156. For an actual Limited Release, we turn to beloved American indie filmmaker Jim Cummings and his new black-comic thriller The Beta Test. Unfortunately, that one flunked both the alpha and beta tests, raising a mere $18,500 from 25 screens for a PTA of $740. Probably because we here at Set the Tape didn’t get our interview with Cummings up fast enough to drive that cinema traffic. Sorry, Jim, our bad.
Close your eyes, give me your Full List, darling.
US Box Office Results: Friday 5th November 2021 – Sunday 7th November 2021
$71,000,000 / NEW
On the one hand: I don’t think this works, it doesn’t feel like a Chloé Zhao film for very long stretches at a time, is badly overstuffed and rather surface on the actually interesting aspects, and doesn’t fully commit to the arthouse Malick tragedy tone it’s clearly aiming for (the requisite jokes really do not work this time). On the other hand: I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all weekend, to a degree where I want to see it again ASAP which is honestly not something I could say about any MCU entry since Black Panther. That second hand is carrying a lot more weight for me at press time, but in general I do think this is one which resists the usual urge for Hot Takes on Twitter.comTM which I do appreciate. Ask me again in four weeks when I’ve gotten my rewatch in. Meantime, Lachlan Haycock’s got a more definitive set of impressions for y’all.
2] Dune: Part One
$7,620,000 / $83,946,162
Two-and-a-half hours of set-up. But an utterly intoxicating, visually and aurally jaw-dropping, and occasionally thrilling two-and-a-half-hours of set-up. Legit question, is there any better working director than Denis Villeneuve at communicating scale? To me, this especially stuck out after watching Eternals where [SPOILERS REDACTED] are supposed to be massive beyond comprehension yet don’t appear so when compared to the main characters. Then you got Villeneuve out here making every single spaceship look utterly gigantic and sandworms whose central gobs look the size of double-decker busses compared to humans. More pre-vis teams on blockbusters should learn from this man and his team.
3] No Time to Die
$6,180,899 / $143,152,307
Keep an eye on this one next week. It’s gone the VOD route as of yesterday, albeit at $19.99 for a 48-hour rental (FUCK OFF), so that may cut into its surprisingly steady performances so far. Not in the UK, though. Here you’ll still need to trek to a cinema and add to its absurdly high performance instead. Hell, by the time we do reconvene next week, it may even outgross Endgame since seemingly nothing can stop terrible Bond movies from dominating the UK charts.
4] Venom: Let There Be Carnage
$4,465,000 / $197,007,635
Not seen this at time of writing but will have by time of posting! The suspense! Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion to this particular story arc!
5] Ron’s Gone Wrong
$3,600,000 / $17,577,325
Ditto this. Thanks to the way that cinema times lined up, I had to place this on the backburner of my catch-up list, so it’s one of the very last I’ll be seeing. I couldn’t have missed out on Dear Evan Hansen now, could I? (Yes, I could’ve, easily.)
$2,600,000 / $8,469,072
It’s incredible how much more convincing the sexual chemistry Léa Seydoux has with Benicio del Toro in 25 minutes of a silly light-hearted comedy anthology than she does with Daniel Craig across 5 hours of multiple deadly serious Bond movies.
Look, I’ll stop roasting Bond movies when they stop boring me to death, ok?
7] Halloween Kills
$2,350,000 / $89,715,075
Speaking of classic horror properties dragged through the mud by subpar entries, Wes Craven’s original The Hills Have Eyes recently received a 4K Ultra HD edition that seamstress of scares Amy Walker opted to check out!
$2,148,000 / NEW
I’m this close to convincing Kelechi Ehenulo to join me for a watch party of Diana: The Musical, I just know it. Everybody go tweet at her that Callie Petch really wants to do a Diana: The Musical watch party with her. She’ll definitely respond positively to your calls to action!
$2,000,000 / $7,605,908
Actuals did indeed push Antlers over the top of Soho in the end, which really just means that Scott Cooper is the lesser of two losers.
10] Last Night in Soho
$1,800,000 / $7,638,635
Got the feeling that Baby Driver 2 script won’t be sitting in Edgar Wright’s back pocket for much longer with how this is going.
Dropped out: My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission, The Addams Family 2
Callie Petch is excited to go grocery shopping.