Even amid the surging coronavirus Delta variant in the U.S., Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings powered past all expectations over Labor Day weekend, grossing an estimated $71.4M over the three-day frame and a studio-projected $83.5M over the four-day from 4,300 locations.
Both of those numbers are records for the Labor Day weekend, far surpassing the previous record holder, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, which grossed $26.4M/$30.59M over Labor Day weekend 2007. Shang-Chi’s three-day debut also stands as the second-largest since the pandemic began in March 2020, behind only Black Widow ($80.37M), and the third-largest ever in the month of September, behind only It ($123.4) and It: Chapter Two ($91.06M).
Shang-Chi certainly represents a milestone for a number of reasons, but its status as the only bona fide tentpole in history to open over Labor Day weekend makes it an outlier in the history of the holiday frame, which has historically been seen as a dumping ground for films as many Americans take advantage of the final weekend of summer by going to barbecues and engaging in more outdoor activities. Certainly, the pandemic’s playing havoc with the release schedule led to the unusual release strategy — Shang-Chi was previously slated for February, May and July of this year before ultimately landing on what has long been considered a dead zone.
Positive word-of-mouth has been one factor in Shang-Chi’s success this weekend, as Disney made pains to build buzz by holding 25 fan screenings at IMAX locations in North America on Wednesday, August 18. The film’s historic nature as the first major Asian and Asian-American-led superhero film also gave it an edge, helping drive turnout in theaters, where — unlike Black Widow, which had a day-and-date release on Disney+ — it’s playing exclusively in theaters for 45 days. Notably, its Saturday gross of $23.2M came in just $100k shy of Black Widow’s gross on its first Saturday.
Most importantly, Shang-Chi appears to be connecting with the fans who have turned out so far: opening day audiences gave it an an “A” Cinemascore and 5 out of 5 stars from ComScore PostTrak (for general audiences/parents), while its Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score is 98% with over 5,000 ratings logged. Critics, too, have responded positively; Shang-Chi currently stands at 92% “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, helping cement the film’s “must-see” status among the core MCU and superhero movie fanbase.
Shang-Chi’s fantastic opening weekend is impressive for a number of reasons, not least of which is the title character’s relative obscurity among the general public. Unlike Black Widow, for example, the character has very little name value with audiences outside of the hardcore Marvel/comic book fanbase. Indeed, Shang-Chi was about as close to being an underdog as is possible for a Marvel title. Coupled with the raging Delta variant and dampened audience enthusiasm for visiting cinemas, that relative lack of name value led to conservative industry forecasts in the weeks leading up to its release. But Disney’s savvy hype-building machine, the film’s status as a history-making entry in the MCU and the exclusive theatrical release combined to make Shang-Chi a powerhouse this weekend. Thankfully for the film, the September corridor ahead boasts little in the way of competition, giving Shang-Chi a wide berth to perform over the next several weeks.
After opening atop the box office with a solid $22M last weekend, Universal’s Candyman fell to second place in its sophomore frame with an estimated $10.5M over the three-day weekend and a studio-projected $13.4M over the four-day. The three-day estimate represents a pretty decent second-weekend drop of 52% for the horror sequel/reboot, which now has a very good $41.9M after 10 days of release.
At No. 3, Free Guy boasted another terrific hold over the holiday frame, dropping just 34% to an estimated $8.7M 3-day and studio-projected $11.2M 4-day in its fourth weekend of release. Through Sunday, leggy Ryan Reynolds action-comedy has an estimated $91.8M in North America.
Paw Patrol: The Movie took fourth place with an estimated $4M 3-day and studio-projected $5.22M four-day in its third weekend, bringing the total for the Paramount family pic to $31.54M to date.d
Fifth place went to Disney’s Jungle Cruise, which grossed an estimated $3.95M 3-day and studio-projected $5.2M four-day in its sixth weekend of release, giving it a total of $108.9M through Monday.
Don’t Breathe 2 landed in sixth place in its fourth weekend with an estimated $2.21M over the 3-day frame and a studio-projected $2.72M over the four-day. The total for the Sony sequel now stands at $28.5M.
UA/MGM’s Respect took seventh place with an estimated $1.27M over the 3-day weekend and a Boxoffice Pro-projected $1.6M over the 4-day. That would bring the Aretha Franklin biopic to just over $22M through Monday.
Rounding out the top 10, Warner Bros.’ The Suicide Squad came in eighth place with an estimated $905k 3-day and Boxoffice Pro-projected $1.1M 4-day for a total of $54.6M through Monday; Searchlight Pictures’ The Night House took the No. 9 spot with a 3-day estimate of $552k and a studio-projected 4-day of $700k, for a total of $6.45M through Monday; and Lionsgate’s The Protégé came in tenth place with an estimated $525k over the 3-day frame and a Boxoffice Pro-projected $650k over the 4-day.
Internationally, Shang-Chi powered its way to a No. 1 opening in all key markets where it debuted, leading to an overseas opening of $56.2M. That give the MCU entry a global opening weekend of $127.6M over the Friday-Sunday frame and a studio-projected global opening of $139.7M through Monday. The film set a pandemic-era opening-weekend record in the U.K. with an estimated $7.7M. It also grossed an estimated $6.5M in Korea, $4.3M in France, $3.2M in Russia, $2.8M in Japan and $2.4M each in Mexico and Hong Kong. The film has yet to open in China and several territories in Southeast Asia where it’s predicted to perform strongly.
Free Guy continued its strong overseas run with an estimated $25.3M from 47 markets, bringing its international total to $147.4M and its global cume to $239.2M. The film has been performing particularly well in China, where it has $57M to date. Other top markets include the U.K. ($18.2M to date) and Russia ($9.8M).
Paw Patrol: The Movie grossed an estimated $7.1M in 47 markets this weekend, bringing its international total to $50.3M. The family title is slated to open in Brazil on September 9 and Australia on September 16.
Warner Bros.’ Malignant debuted in 24 international markets this weekend (including Spain, France and Italy) and grossed an estimated $2.4M. An additional 45 markets are slated to open this week, including Russia, Latin America and the U.K. It also debuts in the U.S. this coming Friday.
Studio 3-Day Weekend Estimates: September 3-5, 2021
|Title||Estimated weekend||% change||Locations||Location change||Average||Total||Weekend||Distributor|
|Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings||$71,400,000||4,300||$16,605||$71,400,000||1||Disney|
|Free Guy||$8,719,000||-34%||3,885||-55||$2,244||$91,893,081||4||Disney (20th Century Studios)|
|PAW Patrol: The Movie||$3,695,000||-44%||3,004||-185||$1,230||$30,019,661||3||Paramount|
|Don’t Breathe 2||$2,210,000||-23%||2,176||-527||$1,016||$27,990,920||4||Sony Pictures|
|The Suicide Squad||$905,000||-55%||1,561||-875||$580||$54,406,632||5||Warner Bros.|
|The Night House||$552,000||-54%||1,020||-1,220||$541||$6,297,926||3||Searchlight Pictures|
|The Green Knight||$181,413||-42%||368||-184||$493||$16,951,072||6||A24|
|A Rescue of Little Eggs||$168,500||-61%||302||-18||$558||$684,508||2||Lionsgate|
|The Boss Baby: Family Business||$73,000||-65%||445||-140||$164||$56,984,570||10||Universal|
|F9: The Fast Saga||$71,000||-41%||387||-150||$183||$172,854,900||11||Universal|
|The Forever Purge||$21,000||-29%||234||-64||$90||$44,457,015||10||Universal|