Shang-Chi brings in $94m over Labor Day weekend

((L-R): Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) in Marvel Studios’ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Photo by Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.)

Disney claims the Friday-Sunday gross for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was $75.5 million, and estimates that with Labor Day added the total will be at least $94 million for the four days. 

On Sunday Disney projected that Shang-Chi would finish the extended weekend with $90 million from 4,300 theaters, but the film sold more tickets than anticipated on Monday, boosting its overall tally to just shy of the $100 million mark. In “normal “ times, that wouldn’t be much of a feat for an installment in the beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, during the global pandemic, it’s on track to become one of the highest-grossing movies of the year.

At the international box office, Shang-Chi amassed $56.2 million in key markets such as France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Japan. The film doesn’t have a release date in China, which is an important territory for Marvel movies. Globally, Shang-Chi has made $146.2 million so far.

Unlike Jungle Cruise, Cruella, and Black Widow, which all debuted simultaneously on Disney Plus for a nominal fee of $39.99, Shang-Chi is playing EXCLUSIVELY in theaters for its first 45 days of release before it lands on-demand. Disney CEO Bob Chapek called its theatrical-only release an “interesting experiment” and indicated its ticket sales would influence plans for future releases, such as Eternals, which is scheduled for November 5.

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Shang-Chi  takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame and centers on a skilled martial artist Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), who is forced to confront his past when he is targeted by the covert Ten Rings organization. The film also stars Tony Leung as Wenwu, Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy, Michelle Yeoh as Ying Nan, Meng’er Zhang as Shang-Chi’s estranged sister Xialing, as well as Fala Chen, Sir Ben Kingsley, Florian Munteanu, and Ronny Chieng.

In a landmark moment for representation, it’s the first installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the biggest film franchise, to feature an Asian star and predominantly Asian cast. Moviegoers and critics alike were impressed with the final product; it has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and an “A” CinemaScore from audiences. 

Simu Liu took to Twitter to celebrate the success of the film while lightly poking fun at himself for his previous work as a stock photo model:

REELated: Eight things about Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The thriller Candyman, slipped from first to second place in its sophomore frame, delivering an estimated $10.5 million over the three-day weekend and $13 million through Monday. The horror film, which is playing only in theaters, has made $41 million to date, a strong result given its $25 million production budget. Free Guy is now #3 and has dropped down 34%.

Among the five lowest drops not available at home, Ryan Reynolds’ hit comedy is the only holdover. The evidence grows that home play doesn’t necessarily hurt box-office performance, but PVOD may bring additional attention and word of mouth that boosts theatrical performance. Sony’s Don’t Breathe 2, a surprise PVOD release after three weeks, fell only 23 percent. Black Widow and Jungle Cruise, long-running and also available on PVOD, dropped even less. PAW Patrol, also on Paramount Plus, had a smaller second-weekend drop than the theater-only Candyman.

United Artists’ Respect dropped from 6th place to 7th in its 4th week at the box office and The Suicide Squad is still holding on, while dropping from 7th to 8th place while maintaining viewership on HBO Max through Sunday. 

The Top Ten (all grosses for original estimates for the three-day Friday-Sunday period)

1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic:; Est. budget: $150-200 million

$75,388,688 in 4,300 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $17,532; Cumulative: $75,388,688

2. Candyman (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$10,550,000 (-52%) in 3,569 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,956; Cumulative: $41,900,000

3. Free Guy (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #2

$8,719,000 (-34%) in 3,885 theaters (-55); PTA: $2,244; Cumulative: $91,893,000

4. PAW Patrol (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #3; also on Paramount Plus

$4,000,000 (-40%) in 3,004 theaters (-185); PTA: $1,332; Cumulative: $31,540,000

5. Jungle Cruise (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #4; also on Premium VOD at Disney+

$3,950,000 (-21%) in 3,075 theaters (-295); PTA: $1,285; Cumulative: $105,648,000

6. Don’t Breathe 2 (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #5; also on PVOD

$2,210,000 (-23%) in 2,176 theaters (-527); PTA: $1,015; Cumulative: $27,991,000

7. Respect (United Artists) Week 4; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$1,265,000 (-44%) in 2,107 theaters (-500); PTA: $600; Cumulative: $21,918

8. The Suicide Squad (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #7; also on HBO Max (through Sunday)

$905,000 (-55%) in 1,561 theaters (-965); PTA: $580; Cumulative: $54,407,000

9. Black Widow (Disney) Week 9; Last weekend #12; also on PVOD

$748,000 (-5%) in 750 theaters (-300); PTA: $997; Cumulative: $182,501

10. The Night House (Searchlight) Week 3; Last weekend #

$552,000 (-54%) in 1,020 theaters (-1,220); PTA: $541; Cumulative: $6,298,000
The weekend’s total gross will be around $109 million, or 18 percent above 2019. Two years ago, acting upon the long-held superstition that no one wants to see movies over Labor Day weekend, there were no new releases. For 2021, this weekend created the year’s strongest overall four-week rolling comparison: It’s 69 percent compared to 2019, up from 56 percent. With Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, we learned that Simu Liu is an action star and that Labor Day is a perfectly fine time to open a blockbuster.