Eternals reigns with $161.7 million global opening weekend despite international hurdles

Eternals reigns with $161.7 million global opening weekend despite international hurdles

Mixed critical reviews and international locations dropping the title from theaters didn’t stop Eternals from becoming No. 1 at the box office.

The latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the highest-grossing movie in theaters this weekend, despite heading into its worldwide opening with chatter around conflicting critical consensus and international territories dropping the title from cinemas.

The film earned an estimated $161.7 million at the global box office, with $71 million coming from domestic gross.

Mixed reviews from film critics landed Eternals with 48 percent to date on Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest score of any MCU film. (Rotten Tomatoes scores are continuously in flux.) However, the Rotten Tomatoes verified audience ratings were much higher at 81 percent to date.

Directed by Nomadland Oscar-winner, Chloé Zhao, the film stars Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, and Lia McHugh as the titular cosmic beings who were sent to earth by the Celestials eons ago to protect humans from creatures called the Deviants.

Eternals head into its opening weekend in theaters with an estimated $9.5 million from Thursday night domestic screenings and a $19.8 million global preview night total. By Saturday morning, the international gross expanded to $69.1 million, with $30.7 million coming from U.S. theaters.

It’s a strong start, especially given the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting mask and vaccine passport mandates in theaters, in addition to multiple international regions refusing to screen the film in cinemas, which is a more complicated issue.

Eternals opened in most international locations on Nov. 5 with the exception of China, Russia, the Middle East, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam. A week before it was set to premiere in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman on Nov. 11, censors in those areas decided to pull the film. Eternals features a same-sex kiss and a same-sex relationship between characters played by Brian Tyree Henry and Haaz Sleiman, but the censors were seeking further cuts beyond that. Those markets generally take issue with the depictions of gods and prophets.

The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt will be screening a version of Eternals without depictions of intimacy, not just the same-sex kiss but also a heterosexual sex scene between two of the Eternals. This is generally considered normal practice within these markets.

Angelina Jolie spoke with News.com.au during a press roundtable discussion and addressed international locations taking issue with the depiction of a same-sex couple.

“I’m sad for [those audiences]. And I’m proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out,” she said. “I still don’t understand how we live in a world today where there’s still [people who] would not see the family Phastos has and the beauty of that relationship and that love. How anybody is angry about it, threatened by it, doesn’t approve or appreciate it is ignorant.”

Haaz Sleiman, himself an openly gay man raised in a Muslim family, also voiced his support of Disney refusing to edit the movie for countries in the Gulf. “They stood their ground and said, ‘Nope, we are not going to compromise the integrity of our film,’” he told Variety. “It made these Arab countries look so ignorant and pathetic.”

The actor, who in 2017 following his coming out dared homophobes to come for him, added, “I have no respect for those governments. They have displayed to the world that they are not only a disgrace to humanity, but to God. Hopefully this will inspire the Saudi people, the Kuwaiti people, and the people in Qatar to fight back.”

China, which has surpassed North America as the world’s biggest movie market, limits how many foreign films are released in theaters. Plus, they maintain heavy censors on content. Just last week, Hong Kong passed a strict censorship law that allows film licenses to be revoked if they are “found to be contrary to national security interests,” Reuters reported.

Analysts also point to a low point in U.S.-China relations affecting Hollywood releases. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of compounded factors affecting a film like Eternals not screening in certain international territories. But with the allure of the Marvel name and the diverse all-star cast, Eternals is already making its mark.

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  1. Brownie
    November 16, 08:25 Reply

    Nigeria and copy copy, 5 and 6
    Pls if anyone knows where I can download the full movie not the censored one, let me know. Thanks.

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