We are heading into the second weekend of Eternals, and it's looking like the movie is going to have a fairly significant drop at the box office. This is likely indicative that there aren't many people going back to see the film a second time. It isn't doing badly at the box office, but it also isn't doing great either. The reviews from critics weren't extremely positive, and while the audience reaction seems much more positive, people are a little mixed on it. Last month, Warner Bros. released Dune to much more critical acclaim though there were some people that didn't like the pacing or the structure of the movie because it was a little weird. The same could be said for Eternals which is why you should really seek out Dune and Eternals more than once to get the full experience.
One of the main things that really kneecaps both movies is the sheer amount of exposition. For Dune, they are setting up an entire universe with customs, political intrigue, and multiple worlds, and all of it is important and not something that can be trimmed down or ignored. Director Denis Villeneuve likely thought this was the right way to go because there is going to be a second movie. Now they can just dive into the second movie without needing to worry about any of the build-up [as we said, Dune is paced like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movies]. Eternals, on the other hand, is introducing an entirely new area of the Marvel universe. There is a lot of lore to go over to make the stakes of this movie really make sense. However, exposition is not something that most audiences tend to enjoy watching. So, the second time you watch both of these movies, you can just let the exposition roll over you because you already know it. You can just enjoy these slower moments for what they are and digest how this exposition is going to impact the overall movie.
Another thing that Dune and Eternals have in common is strange pacing and structure. Most people go into a movie expecting a classic three-act structure because that is how films are usually presented. It doesn't mean that movies that are structured or paced like that are bad; it just means that there needs to be some adjustment to make sure you're holding your audience's attention. The strange structure is compounded by the aforementioned exposition dumps and the issue that both of these movies are over two and a half hours long. When you're watching a film for the first time, the structure and pacing issues are much more apparent. However, when you go in the second time, you know what to expect and when to expect it. You can just let yourself sit back and let the movie wash over you, you can let yourself get lost in it, and as someone who has seen both of these movies twice, I can confirm that both were better the second time around.
However, when it comes to seeing these movies more than once, Dune is set up for success much more than Eternals. Dune was more acclaimed the first time around by audiences and critics. People are more willing to check out a movie they like or at least mostly liked a second time around. However, Eternals has proven to be much more divisive, and trying to get someone to check out a movie they didn't really like a second time on the chance they might like it more is much harder. The way these movies were released is also going to play a big part in whether or not they are seen more than once. Most people don't see movies in theaters more than once, and saying, "you'll probably like Dune the second time around more" is an easier ask when said person could just watch it a second time at home on HBO Max. Eternals is theatrical only, and it's much more challenging to get someone to see a movie they weren't crazy about a second time and even more so a second time in theaters. Right now, it's even worse because there is a major release coming out almost every week from now until Christmas. There is even less time to check out a movie a second time theatrically when another big release is right around the corner.
Both Dune and Eternals have more in common than they have differences despite what some people might want you to think. Since Eternals is a movie that can be appreciated over multiple viewings, there is a good chance the reception to the film will improve once it makes its way onto streaming. As for Dune, it is already going very well, and the sequel was finally greenlit. If you liked Dune and you have HBO Max, absolutely check it out. If you were a little lukewarm Eternals and you're willing to see it a second time, you should. Just sit back and let the vibes wash over you.
Dune is currently out in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. Eternals is currently out in theaters.