Weekend Box Office Forecast: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Looks to Hold Off James Wan’s Malignant

Photo Credits: Disney & Marvel Studios ("Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings"); Warner Bros. ("Malignant")

One week after Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ historic Labor Day opening, the Marvel Studios film is targeting another easy box office victory in its sophomore weekend.

The MCU’s latest blockbuster scored an expectation-shattering $75.4 million three-day and $94.7 million four-day holiday bow in North America, more than doubling the previous Labor Day opening record held by Rob Zombie’s 2007 iteration of Halloween and setting an early tone for this fall’s theatrical release slate.

Even more impressive within Shang-Chi‘s first frame were the day-to-day holds. The film eased just over 21 percent from Friday to Saturday, and actually increased 12 percent when factoring out Thursday night’s preview grosses. From there, the film’s early legs began to show with a slim 2 percent Sunday decline and 15 percent Monday slip.

These figures were bolstered by the holiday weekend and the fact that close to three-quarters of schools were back in session as of last Friday. Even this Monday’s sub-66 percent decline from Sunday offered another positive metric, though.

Still, this remains an unprecedented calendar release during a pandemic that continues to linger. The collection of data points continues to grow, and all eyes now turn to how well the strongly received Marvel pic will hold up throughout a September that lacks much direct competition. It boasts a remarkable 98 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

For reference, MCU films tend to hold relatively well in their second weekend considering how front-loaded they are by fan-driven first screenings. Even Avengers: Endgame only dropped 59 percent in its second weekend back in May 2019 after its all-time record opening. In their respective second frames, Captain Marvel slipped 56 percent earlier that year, Thor: Ragnarok dipped 54 percent, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 dropped 56 percent, Doctor Strange moved down 50 percent, and the first Ant-Man dropped 57 percent.

An intriguing point of comparison, though, might be Black Panther. It’s the only other Marvel film to open on a Friday as part of a four-day holiday weekend where the holiday itself landed on Monday. In Panther‘s case, that was Presidents Day in 2018. The incredible cultural buzz and positive word of mouth surrounding that film resulted in a stellar second frame decline of just 45 percent after shocking the industry with its $202 million three-day weekend preceding the holiday.

Adding to the feat: Panther faced over $31 million worth of new wide releases in that second frame. Can Shang-Chi achieve a similarly sticky second showing performance? It certainly has a favorable landscape ahead with far less competition entering theaters this weekend, but nevertheless, times are different right now and cautious expectations remain warranted.

That competition primarily comes from Malignant, filmmaker James Wan’s latest original horror pic. He previously turned The Conjuring, Insidious, and Saw into breakout hit franchises for the genre (not to mention blockbuster helming turns on Furious 7 and Aquaman), so his fan following and credentials shouldn’t be underestimated — especially leading into the early weeks of Halloween season.

Nevertheless, Malignant has a few hurdles to overcome: the horror genre has been saturated with numerous releases since the start of summer, Wan’s film won’t have much of a premium large screen footprint or its higher ticket prices to enjoy (those remain dominated by Shang-Chi), and Warner Bros. is releasing it as part of their day-and-date experimental model. With the film available to horror fans and HBO Max subscribers at home for free, that’s likely to impact box office potential while increasing piracy risk.

The studio did previously release The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It to a respectable $24.1 million weekend back in June while it was also available to stream, and Malignant is aiming for a very similar target audience. Pre-sales and social media activity haven’t been near as strong for the latter as they were for the aforementioned sequel, but that could change as original horror films (and even sequels) are often known to pop at the eleventh hour. Still, marketing hasn’t been as engaged for Malignant as it was for the likes of that Conjuring film or July’s Old.

Another element to weigh is the fact that the film has no Rotten Tomatoes score as of Thursday morning. Review embargos typically aren’t held for films this long if there’s a palpable sense by the studio that it could be a crowd-pleasing hit in the making, but that’s not necessarily always the case.

Elsewhere, Focus Features will debut The Card Counter in an estimated 500 locations this weekend, while Sony Pictures will open Show Me the Father at close to 1,000 venues. The former is tracking on par with films like The Promise, Stillwater, and The Protege, but the limited scope of its location count might keep it slightly below their box office numbers.

In Father‘s case, the faith-based pic has some potential to surprise with a grassroots following carrying over from films like War Room, Overcomer, and Fireproof. This new documentary hails from the same creators behind those films. Adult women are often the drivers of faith-based films, though, and it’s well-reported by now that they remain the most cautious to return to cinemas during the pandemic.

Forecast Ranges

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Second Weekend Range: $34 – 42 million

The Card Counter
Opening Weekend Range: $1 – 3 million
Domestic Total Range: $3 – $10 million

Opening Weekend Range: $5 – 10 million
Domestic Total Range: $12 – $32 million

Show Me the Father
Opening Weekend Range: $1 – 4 million
Domestic Total Range: $3 – $13 million

Weekend Forecast

Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will decrease between 35 and 45 percent from Labor Day weekend’s three-day $108.3 million top ten aggregate.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, September 12 Location Count % Change from Last Wknd
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Disney / Marvel Studios $37,200,000 $147,100,000 4,300 -47%
Malignant Warner Bros. Pictures $6,500,000 $6,500,000 ~3,800 NEW
Free Guy 20th Century Studios $5,500,000 $101,500,000 3,650 -38%
Candyman Universal Pictures $5,300,000 $48,400,000 3,279 -49%
Jungle Cruise Walt Disney Studios $2,600,000 $110,100,000 2,800 -35%
PAW Patrol: The Movie Paramount Pictures $2,300,000 $34,600,000 2,820 -43%
Show Me the Father Sony Pictures $2,300,000 $2,300,000 1,073 NEW
Don’t Breathe 2 Sony Pictures / Columbia $1,200,000 $30,200,000 1,708 -48%
The Card Counter Focus Features $1,100,000 $1,100,000 580 NEW
Respect United Artists Releasing / MGM $770,000 $23,400,000 1,307 -38%

All forecasts subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or alternative sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studios.

Photo Credits: Disney & Marvel Studios ("Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings"); Warner Bros. ("Malignant")