‘Eternals’ Looking At Another Number One Weekend Against Newcomer ‘Clifford The Big Red Dog’
Marvel’s Eternals dominated at the box office last weekend, opening to $71.3 million and making up 65% of the entire weekend box office, bringing the overall box office back above $100 million after two frames of falling short. While October had three weekends in a row where the box office stayed above $100 million, November is looking more like the somewhat front-loaded July which, despite some solid openings, never crossed $100 million in a weekend after Black Widow’s July 9-11 opening.

With no major competition, Eternals is looking at another number one weekend even if it has a big drop. While the Chloé Zhao directed film’s mixed reviews (47% on Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest in the franchise by a large margin) may not have hurt its opening weekend box office, the less than stellar word-of-mouth, as indicated by the film’s B CinemaScore (also the lowest in the franchise), is likely to hinder the film’s legs. The box-office performances of Shang-Chi, which has roughly tripled its opening weekend gross, and Doctor Strange, which opened to $85 million in the same early November slot in 2017 and had a multiplier of 2.7, seem like a long shot for Eternals, but this weekend will give us an idea of where it ends up.

A better comp for Eternals is Black Widow, which dropped 68% in its second weekend and had a multiplier of around 2.3. Of course, Black Widow had the caveat of being released on Disney+, so a drop of that size may make Eternals look like a disappointment compared to other MCU films. However, its opening weekend is the fourth best since the start of the pandemic, and its overseas performance is strong, with openings above Shang-Chi in many major markets, and $171 million already in the bank worldwide.

Coming in at number two this weekend should be Clifford the Big Red Dog, the first live-action film based on the popular children’s book series. Walt Becker (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip) directs the kid’s flick which stars Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Tony Hale, Sienna Guillory, John Cleese, and Kenan Thompson, not to mention its computer generated big red dog. Clifford opened Wednesday on 3,600 screens, grossing $2.3 million, and it hopes to catch the many kids who have school off this Veterans Day.

At 49% on Rotten Tomatoes, critics aren’t exactly singing praises for the film, but many note that it is a satisfying family entertainment, and audiences agree. Clifford received an A CinemaScore, and it has little competition in the kid-friendly segment until Disney’s animated Encanto opens on November 24. While positive word of mouth is a plus, the film’s availability on Paramount+ could hold the film’s potential back. Clifford’s international rollout starts in December.

The most significant title at the specialty box office this weekend is Focus Features’ Belfast, which is opening in 588 theaters. Belfast is written and directed by Kenneth Branagh who based the story on his childhood growing up in Belfast in the late 1960s. Jude Hill, Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, and Colin Morgan headline the coming of age film which premiered at Telluride, won the People's Choice Award at Toronto, and has charmed critics (87% on Rotten Tomatoes).

Belfast is being buzzed about as an Oscar contender, as is often the case for TIFF’s People’s Choice Award winners, and it has been nominated for 11 British Independent Film Awards. Regardless of how it plays this weekend, Belfast’s box office is one to watch in the coming months as the awards season heats up.

Also notable in limited release is Sony Pictures Classics’ documentary Julia about the iconic food personality Julia Child. The film, which is produced by Ron Howard, is currently at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. Directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West previously made the Oscar nominated 2018 documentary RBG which grossed $14 million.

Following up on Red Notice, which Netflix released last weekend ahead of its streaming debut this weekend, we are seeing another theatrical release from the streamer with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick... Boom! The film, which will debut on Netflix next weekend, stars Andrew Garfield as Jonathan Larson, the playwright and composer behind the Broadway hit "Rent" as well as the autobiographical show the film is based on.