The Biggest Movies Coming to Theaters in September 2021

'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' image courtesy: Disney. 'Cry Macho' image courtesy: Warner Bros. 'Dear Evan Hansen' image courtesy: Universal.

In recent weeks, Sony Pictures moved sci-fi sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage from September 24 to October 15, while Paramount pulled the live-action Clifford the Big Red Dog from September 17 to a to-be-determined date. So while the upcoming month’s slate may still be subject to further changes, as of right now, here are the films currently slated for wide release in theaters. 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Friday, September 3

Premise: Simu Liu stars as the superhero title character in Disney’s MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) installment. Avoiding the day-and-date controversy of July’s prior MCU release Black Widow, which premiered simultaneously in theaters and for a $30 surcharge on Disney+, Shang-Chi is committing to a 45-day theatrical exclusivity window. Destin Daniel Cretton, of Just Mercy and The Glass Castle, directs.

Box office comparisons: Black Widow, the lone other MCU film released since the pandemic, opened to an $80.3M opening weekend and has earned $180.5M domestic to date as it approaches the end of its theatrical run, likely to finish somewhere around $185M-$190M. 


Friday, September 10

Premise: Annabelle Wallis stars as Madison, a woman who can telepathically witness murders occurring elsewhere, in this Warner Bros. horror. James Wan of horror titles SawThe Conjuring, and Insidious — not to mention less frightening fare including Aquaman and Furious 7 — directs.

Box office comparisons: Wan’s most apt comp here is probably 2011’s Insidious ($13.2M opening / $54.0M total). July and August saw three wide release horror titles: The Forever Purge ($12.5M opening / $44.3M total), Don’t Breathe 2 ($10.6M opening / $21.3M total to date and likely to finish $25M), and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions ($8.8M opening / $25.1M total to date as it nears the end of its run).

The Card Counter

Friday, September 10

Premise: Oscar Isaac stars as the title character, a former Abu Ghraib soldier turned casino gambler named William Tell. (Seriously.) Recruited by Cirk, the son a fellow soldier who committed suicide, the pair hatch a plan to exact revenge on a military commander played by Willem Dafoe, whom Cirk blames for his parent’s death. Paul Schrader, who penned the screenplays for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, writes and directs this Focus Features thriller.

Box office comparisons: Schrader’s 2018 First Reformed, which he also wrote and directed, earned $3.4M domestic. Excluding his Star Wars roles, Isaac’s two most recent live action films also earned similar amounts: 2018’s At Eternity’s Gate with $2.2M and that same year’s Life Itself with $4.0M.

Cry Macho

Friday, September 17

Premise: Clint Eastwood stars and directs this Warner Bros. drama thriller about an old man hired by his former boss to return his son back to Texas from a dangerous part of Mexico. The film is based on the 1975 novel of the same name by N. Richard Nash — which, ironically, was originally written as a screenplay before Nash retooled it into a book.

Box office comparisons: Eastwood’s most recent turn as simultaneous lead/director, 2018’s The Mule, opened to $17.5M and earned $103.8M domestic, though Cry Macho is likely projected to earn a lower total than that. August’s similarly-styled Stillwater, also about a southern male lead (played by Matt Damon) on a dangerous mission to rescue a teenager, opened to $5.1M and has earned $13.7M total to date.

Blue Bayou

Friday, September 17

Premise: Justin Chon wrote, directed, and starred in this Focus Features drama about a Korean-American man living in Louisiana, adopted and brought to the U.S. when he was three, who’s targeted for deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) due to his criminal record. Academy Award-winning Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) costars as his wife.

Box office comparisons: Another recent deporation-themed drama, 2019’s The Sun is Also a Star, opened to $2.5M and earned $4.9M total. 2012’s fellow Louisiana-based drama Beasts of the Southern Wild earned $12.7M, thanks in part to its awards nominations that year, including Academy Awards nods for Best Picture and Best Actress.


Friday, September 17

Premise: Gerard Butler stars as a hitman assigned to kill a target, except the target gets himself arrested by sucker-punching a rookie cop — so to get himself closer to his target, the hitman intentionally gets himself locked up in jail, too. Now it’s up to the rookie cop (played by Alexis Louder) to prevent the hit job from taking place, in this R-rated action thriller from Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment.

Box office comparisons: Open Road’s similar January action thriller, The Marksman starring Liam Neeson, earned $15.5M amid perhaps the worst months of the pandemic. Butler’s 2018 Hunter Killer made an almost identical $15.7M.

Dear Evan Hansen

Friday, September 24

Premise: Universal’s musical about the misfit high school title character is adapted from the 2016 Broadway play, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Ben Platt, who won that year for Best Actor in a Musical, reprises his role in the film adaptation costarring Julianne Moore and Amy Adams. Stephen Chbosky of Wonder and The Perks of Being a Wallflower directs.   

Box office comparisons: June’s movie musical In the Heights opened to $11.5M and earned $29.8M total. The last major theatrically-released movie musical before that, 2019’s Cats, finished with a similar $27.1M. And though it’s not a musical, Chbosky’s similarly high school-set Wallflower earned $17.7M.

'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' image courtesy: Disney. 'Cry Macho' image courtesy: Warner Bros. 'Dear Evan Hansen' image courtesy: Universal.
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