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Eternals tops the box office but earns the MCU's lowest audience grade

Marvel's Eternals had a solid debut at the top of the box office this weekend. But for Disney, there's still some cause for concern. 

The new Marvel superhero film took in $71 million at the domestic box office, scoring the fourth best opening weekend of the pandemic, Variety reports. The debut came in behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe's previous entry, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Ringswhich grossed $75.3 million over three days in September. 

Still, Eternals' debut was on the lower end of expectations, The Hollywood Reporter notes. It likely didn't help that despite being directed by Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao, the movie earned mixed reviews and received the lowest score of any MCU movie on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. It also became the first movie in the MCU to draw a "Rotten" score on the site, as 48 percent of critics gave it a favorable review. 

Reception among audiences also appeared to be less positive than most Marvel films. The movie earned a B CinemaScore, a rating that's obtained by polling average moviegoers, according to The Hollywood Reporter. While a B might not sound bad, the Reporter notes it's the lowest CinemaScore rating of any film in the 13-year history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios' movies almost always receive an A or an A- grade, and the previous lowest CinemaScore for an MCU film was a B+ for 2011's Thor. Analysts noted that if Eternals' word-of-mouth isn't strong, this could spell trouble for its long-term box office performance. 

"You have to keep things in perspective," Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock told Variety. "For any other studio this kind of result would be a major, major hit. But the disturbing news for Disney is the critical reception for Eternals and how that will impact word-of-mouth going forward. You could see a steep drop in the box office in its second or third weekends."