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Box Office: ‘Shang-Chi’ Performs Like Marvel Movie And Drops 67% On Friday

Katy (Awkwafina) and Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) in Marvel Studios’ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021.

©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings topped the domestic box office for the second Friday in a row, earning $9.7 million for a $119.5 million domestic total. That’s a drop of 67% from its $29.5 million opening day, which means the Simu Liu-starring Marvel movie is playing, like, well, a Marvel movie. That 68% drop is more or less equal to the likes of Ant-Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel. Sure, it’s a bigger Friday drop than Black Panther (-62%) but it’s a better hold than Captain America: Civil War (-74%) and Black Widow (-80%). We’re likely looking at a $33 million (-56%) second weekend, which again is right in the realm of “normal” for a big Marvel movie.

That 56% drop would be right on par with previous “big” Labor Day openers such as Transporter 2 and Jeepers Creepers 2, and it’s a better hold than Rob Zombie’s Halloween (-62% from a $30.5 million debut in 2007). As we saw with John Krasinski and Emily Blunt’s A Quiet Place part II this past May, solid weekday grosses may have siphoned off second-weekend earnings, as folks who wanted to check it out (or see it again) after the holiday weekend already did so. That’s not a problem as A) the overall grosses are perfectly strong and B) Shang-Chi would *love* to have a post-debut multiplier on par with A Quiet Place part II ($160 million from a $57 million Fri-Mon Memorial Day weekend debut).

Ben Schwartz in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ and Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in ‘Bad Boys For Life’

Paramount and Sony

We’re probably looking at a $143 million ten-day total, putting it within spitting distance of Sonic the Hedgehog ($146 million just before everything went to hell in 2020). If the domestic/overseas split remains as it was by Sunday (53/47), it’ll have around $267 million worldwide by tomorrow night. Presuming it doesn’t collapse after this weekend, it’ll almost certainly be the first movie to top $200 million domestic since Bad Boys for Life ($204 million from a $73 million Fri-Mon debut) in January 2020. Transporter 2 earned 1.43x its $30.3 million ten-day total, and a similar run would give Shang-Chi a $205 million cume. The biggest sign of success is that Disney has announced that the rest of its 2021 releases will get a theatrical window.

Walt Disney Animation’s Encanto will get 30 days of theatrical exclusivity when it opens on Thanksgiving weekend (which was more than enough for F9 and sends the toon to Disney+ on Christmas Eve), while the likes of West Side Story, The King’s Man, Eternals and The Last Duel will get at least 45 days exclusively in theaters. That doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of “Premier Access” hybrid releases, and frankly it was perhaps a necessary evil for an unprecedented moment in time. But that Shang-Chi is essentially performing (at least in North America) about as well as it might have under non-Covid circumstances shows that at least some theatrical window can allow must-see films to play pretty close to “business as usual” even in unusual times.

FREE GUY

Photo by Alan Markfield

Meanwhile in more evidence in favor of theatrical windows, 20th Century’s Free Guy earned another $1.472 million (-38%) on its fifth Friday for a $97.5 million domestic cume. The buzzy and leggy Ryan Reynolds/Jodie Comer original should earn $5.2 million (-42%) to end day 31 just over the $101 million mark. And, yeah, it’s continuing to kick ass in China, having just passed Chris Nolan’s Tenet ($66.6 million last year) to be the third-biggest Hollywood grosser of 2020/2021 behind only Godzilla Vs. Kong ($188 million) and F9 ($216 million). No Time to Die just got cleared for a China release, while Shang-Chi and Eternals still wait for their fate. Just a reminder that, in normal times, none of these biggies would have *needed* China for box office success.

Universal and MGM’s Candyman earned $1.38 million (-52%) on its third Friday for a likely $4.25 million (-59%) weekend and $47.4 million 17-day cume. Pre-Covid expectations aside, an over/under $55 million domestic cume puts it above Old ($47.7 million) and any horror flick this year save for A Quiet Place part II ($160 million) and The Conjuring 3 ($64 million). Without too much “correlation equals causation” speculation, I’d argue that Universal perhaps sees this film’s grosses as the likely Covid-specific ceiling for next month’s Halloween Kills (Halloween’s $159 million domestic gross from a $77 million notwithstanding) and is thus using the film (now getting a day-and-date release) to give Peacock a seasonal boost. Finally, Jungle Cruise will earn $2.1 million (-47%) for a $109.6 million domestic cume.

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