Marvel's new superhero film "Eternals" took in an estimated $71 million this weekend to top the North American box office, a strong pandemic-era opening if a bit below expectations, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said Sunday. Written and directed by Chloe Zhao, fresh off her best-director Oscar win for "Nomadland," the film faced some of the worst reviews of any Marvel film-the only one to draw a "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes-but has fared well overseas, taking in an impressive $91 million.

Led by actors Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden and Gemma Chan, "Eternals" tells the tale of an immortal race of aliens who emerge from several millennia in hiding to save the Earth from the evil Deviants. With "Eternals" gobbling up the biggest chunk of box office pie for the Friday-through-Sunday period, previous leader "Dune" dropped to a very distant second place, at $7.6 million. The Warner Bros sci-fi thriller, based on the classic Frank Herbert opus, stars Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya and Oscar Isaac. It follows a family in the distant future fighting for survival on a desert planet plagued by monstrous sandworms.

United Artist's James Bond film "No Time to Die" again placed third, at $6.2 million. The studio says it is Daniel Craig's last time playing the suave spy. It will be offered on digital platforms starting Tuesday, a quick turnaround after its October 8 release. Sony superhero film "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," moved up a place this weekend, to fourth spot, taking in $4.5 million. Its domestic total is now close to $200 million. And in fifth was 20th Century's computer-animated sci-fi comedy "Ron's Gone Wrong," at $3.6 million. Its voice cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Olivia Colman. Rounding out the top 10 were:

"The French Dispatch" ($2.6 million)

"Halloween Kills" ($2.4 million)

"Spencer" ($2.1 million)

"Antlers" ($2 million)

"Last Night in Soho" ($1.8 million) - AFP