Disney/Marvel’s Eternals, which is set to keep the fall box office rally going, is looking at a global opening of $150 million, a number that’s poised to best the $128M worldwide start of Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings back in early September, and emulate the $150M filed by Black Widow, which had a Disney+ Premiere day-and-date component in select markets including the U.S.
Already, out of the gate, the Marvel Cinematic Universe title from Oscar winner Chloé Zhao is No. 1 at the Wednesday B.O. in Korea, becoming the second best opening day in the country during the pandemic with $2.6M (including midnight ticket sales), filing behind the first day of Universal’s F9. Korea has always been a fervent Marvel country. We are also hearing that France, which debuted the pic today, is looking strong. Italy and Germany also opened today.
Korea is the hub to watch this session and is expected to be a key factor in the film’s overall offshore launch. Korea’s Don Lee, aka Ma Dong-seok (Train to Busan), as Gilgamesh is a significant player, presales and tracking are strong and Korea is entering a new phase of its virus response with the so-called “living with Covid” strategy.
Seoul has for some time been at a level four safety level with theaters with 10 p.m. curfews for cinemas, and an attendance level, up until Venom: Let There Be Carnage, that can be described as cautious. From this past Monday, new rules came into effect that will ease restrictions. According to the Korea Herald, multiplex giant CGV is offering incentives for those who have been fully vaccinated in special “vaccine-pass theaters” where there will be no requirements for leaving vacant seats in between audience members and the curfew will be lifted. Mask rules will remain in effect.
Another major exhibition chain, Lotte, opened its vaccine-pass venues starting today and the Korean Film Council is providing discount coupons for movies. More than 75% of the country’s population has now been fully vaccinated.
At this opening-day level for Eternals, it’s quite conceivable that the movie will post a higher weekend than Black Widow did back in July with $12M, and an ultimate final of $26.3M. Marvel’s Shang-Chi debuted to $6.6M in Korea and finaled at $15.2M. Heading into the weekend, Eternals had 200,000 presales in Korea, ahead of Black Widow’s advance ticket sales, but low social media scores.
As we previously reported this morning, the domestic outlook for Eternals is $75M from 4,000+ theaters, the movie being saddled with the worst MCU reviews ever at 53% Rotten, though it’s questionable whether that impacts the box office at all given the pic’s connection to the greater multi-universe that Disney+’s Loki and upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are setting up. The pic is a definite must-see for fans, and currently presales stateside are the second best of 2021 with $13M, which is 13% behind Black Widow at the same point in time prior to opening and 25% ahead of Shang-Chi.
By Friday, this massive all-star ensemble cast that includes Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kumail Nanjiani, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek and more will be in 93% of its foreign footprint including Mexico, Brazil, the UK, Spain, Japan and Australia.
The overseas projection start is being pegged between $60M-$75M range. Pandemic-era comps are Shang-Chi, which likewise was original Marvel IP and did $53M in like-for-like markets. Another comp is 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, which did $93M in like-for-likes and at today’s rates during broadly the same release window (though it went early internationally, benefiting at the time from school vacations). While that film was pre-Covid, and thus not in the same environment, there has been improvement in some offshore markets since Shang-Chi debuted, especially in the Asia Pacific region. The expected multiple is between 2.5 and 3.5 on the overseas opening.
While we’ll know more as markets get going this week, Shang-Chi’s offshore debut is the first one that could be beat. Its top overseas play was the UK, followed by Korea. Marvel also excels in the European majors, as it does in Korea.
The opening suite does not include Russia, where Covid cases have spiked and a lockdown is in place in Moscow and Saint Petersburg through Sunday, nor the Middle East — or China. Russia is opening on Monday, November 8 and the Middle East is expected next weekend.
It now seems unlikely that Eternals gets a China date, which could have to do with a backlash against Zhao, whose Oscar winner Nomadland was pulled from the schedule earlier this year in the wake of comments she allegedly had made about the PRC that were unearthed last March. It’s also notable that no Disney/Marvel movie has released in China this year, i.e., Black Widow and Shang-Chi.
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