Eternals, Clifford, And Belfast Box Office Solidify Pandemic-Era Trends

It was a busy week at the box office with "Clifford the Big Red Dog" serving as the weekend's big new release, while Marvel's "Eternals" was facing a big test in its second frame. It proved to be a more interesting — and telling — battle than perhaps was expected. Plus, a couple of blockbusters in the form of "No Time to Die" and "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" passed major milestones, while "Belfast" solidified a consistently troubling trend. Let's dig into the numbers, shall we?

Eternals Defeats a Big Red Dog

"Eternals" managed to win the weekend with $27.5 million, as per Box Office Mojo. That represents a 61.4% drop week-to-week, after debuting with a (relatively) robust $71 million in its debut. That drop isn't as steep as "Black Widow" faced in its second week, with Scarlett Johansson's MCU flick plunging 67.8%. It had much better reviews, and was based on a character that audiences had loved for a decade. So the fact that director Chloe Zhao's "Eternals," based on an unknown property with mixed reviews, managed to do this well in week two, solidifies both the strength of the Marvel brand and the power of theatrical exclusivity, in most cases. Remember, "Black Widow" took a lot of heat for its day-and-date release on Disney+. But hybrid releases do work in some cases.

"Clifford the Big Red Dog" came in the No. 2 spot with $16.4 million over the weekend and $22 million during its full five-day release. Despite taking it in the teeth from critics, it was a big hit with families and performed better than expected. This is an example of another family-friendly flick that was also released on premium VOD at home as well, much like "Trolls World Tour," "Addams Family 2," and others before it. These family-friendly flicks seem to be the possible exception to the theatrically exclusive rule. While VOD numbers have not yet been released by the studio, it seems safe to assume, based on the ticket sales, that the giant crimson pooch also cleaned up with audiences at home. Will it be enough to justify the $64 million budget? Time will tell, but this may well be the future of family films.

No Time to Die and Venom 2 Cross Major Milestones

This weekend was kind to a pair of blockbusters that have been doing well week in and week out. Starting with "No Time to Die," the latest "James Bond" flick has now earned $708 million globally, becoming just the second American movie of the pandemic era to cross the $700 million mark behind "F9" ($721 million). Though it's estimated that Daniel Craig's final go-around as 007 needs to make around $800 million to break even because of its massive budget and marketing spend. Setting that aside, it's a heck of a good result up to this point.

Elsewhere, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" added another $4 million domestically, bringing its North American total to $202.7 million. It is now only the second movie to cross $200 million at the domestic box office in 2021, behind Marvel Studios and Disney's "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" ($224 million). The "Venom" sequel currently stands at $441 million globally. Without China, it's starting to seem like between $400 and $500 million worldwide at the high end is the new ceiling for a big blockbuster as we attempt to emerge from the pandemic. That may mean big things for big-budget flicks in the future. For now? Sony gets to call it a win.

Belfast Gets a Relatively Decent Start

Director Kenneth Branaugh's "Belfast" opened this weekend with a somewhat modest rollout in 580 theaters, taking in $1.8 million, good enough for the eighth spot this weekend. The Oscar hopeful is solidifying that indie/arthouse flicks face a tough road to profitability at the box office right now. Recovery has been painstakingly slow in that department, but this is a somewhat promising result. Somewhat. The fact of the matter is other recent artier/niche releases such as "Spencer" and "Last Night In Soho" have struggled to find an audience large enough to make a meaningful impact. Though with these awards season movies, the conventional thinking was that it's a marathon, not a spring. Case in point, "Spencer" dropped just 28.3% this week, taking in $1.5 million.

Even Wes Anderson's "The French Dispatch," which now sits at $22.9 million worldwide, has been touted as a win. However, its $25 million budget (which doesn't account for marketing) still puts profitability well out of reach at this stage. "Belfast" isn't a disappointment yet, but it illustrates the long road these sorts of movies are going to face if they have to have a viable future in theaters.

And the Rest...

"Dune" came in at number three, adding another $5.5 million to its total, with the sci-fi flick sitting at $351 million worldwide. It will probably finish in the $400 million range, which should be enough to justify the sequel. Disney's "Ron's Gone Wrong" finished at number six with $2.2 million. Its week-to-week holds aren't bad, but at just $53 million globally, it's still a flop. Sorry, Ron. The arty horror flick "Antlers" rounded out the top 10 with $1.2 million.

Director Scott Cooper's long-awaited movie, produced by Guillermo del Toro, has only made $14.5 million thus far. Zero chance it turns a profit — not even close. In rough news, Edgar Wright's "Last Night In Soho" already fell out of the top 10, taking in just $830,000 in its third week. Given its $45 million budget, and the fact that it hasn't even cleared $17 million globally, that's downright brutal.

Looking ahead to next week, we get a pair of big newcomers in the form of "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" and Will Smith's "King Richard."