Weekend Box Office Forecast: Will Shang-Chi Four-peat Against Dear Evan Hansen?

Photo Credits: Disney / Marvel Studios ("Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings"); Universal Pictures ("Dear Evan Hansen")

Autumn has arrived in North America, and the final September box office chart could again be ruled by Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings unless Universal’s Dear Evan Hansen beats expectations in its debut.

Shang-Chi is fresh off another strong hold, earning $21.7 million last weekend to claim the second highest third frame ever posted by a September release — trailing only It‘s $29.8 million in 2017. The Warner Bros. title posted a $16.9 million fourth frame to end the month that year.

Disney’s latest Marvel hit continues to roll with strong word of mouth and theatrical exclusivity. While it won’t match the five consecutive weekends in first place achieved by Tenet last year (Venom: Let There Be Carnage‘s October 1 release will assure that much), hitting a fourth straight frame in the top spot looks achievable. The last film to manage such a streak before the pandemic was Black Panther, winning the box office for five consecutive weekends in early 2018.

The only source of new competition for Shang-Chi will come in the form of the aforementioned stage play adaptation, Dear Evan Hansen. Young adults — particularly young women — are the target audience for the film. That’s a crowd that hasn’t had many attractive options to bring them back to theaters throughout this recovery period so far.

Unfortunately, though, Hansen‘s prospects haven’t gained much momentum in recent weeks. The film was already a commercial wild card as a dramatic musical. The young adult-driven era of dramatic films has burned out considerably over the past half-decade with more box office misfires than successes. There’s also a natural comparison here to Warner Bros.’ In the Heights, which notoriously under-performed this past summer despite plenty of industry hype.

Where Hansen is strongest will be the fact that it’s exclusive to theaters upon release, in addition to its IP familiarity among fans. The question is how many audiences beyond the core demographic will turn out after Thursday and Friday’s initial shows. Pre-release tracking has softened lately, social media activity hasn’t caught fire, and critics’ reviews are sour at 37 percent as of the Wednesday before release.

Overall, pre-sales and social trends are favoring Love, Simon and Five Feet Apart ($11.8 million and $13.1 million openings, respectively) far more than the likes of Wonder ($27.5 million) or The Fault In Our Stars ($48 million).

Hansen will share some premium screen footprint, taking some of Shang-Chi‘s price boost away from it and perhaps narrowing that competitive gap for a first place race. Given the crowded October slate coming up and a slew of non-event films failing to impress at the box office lately, though, Hansen is arguably an underdog when it comes to any effort at dethroning the Marvel film at this point.

Also debuting this weekend will be the 10th anniversary re-release of Courageous (titled Courageous Legacy) in approximately 1,000 theaters. Meanwhile, Disney will expand Searchlight Pictures’ The Eyes of Tammy Faye from 450 to 1,352 locations.

Forecast Ranges

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Fourth Weekend Range: $12 – $15 million

Dear Evan Hansen
Opening Weekend Range: $8 – 13 million
Domestic Total Range: $20 – $40 million

Weekend Forecast

Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will decrease between 5 and 15 percent from last weekend’s $44.9 million top ten aggregate.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, September 26 Location Count % Change from Last Wknd
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Disney / Marvel Studios $13,800,000 $197,400,000 3,952 -36%
Dear Evan Hansen Universal Pictures $9,600,000 $9,600,000 3,364 NEW
Free Guy 20th Century Studios $4,400,000 $114,500,000 3,175 -13%
Candyman Universal Pictures $2,600,000 $57,100,000 2,556 -26%
Cry Macho Warner Bros. Pictures $2,500,000 $8,800,000 ~3,967 -44%
Jungle Cruise Walt Disney Studios $1,700,000 $115,000,000 2,065 -18%
Malignant Warner Bros. Pictures $1,600,000 $12,300,000 ~2,600 -41%
PAW Patrol: The Movie Paramount Pictures $1,500,000 $39,200,000 1,995 -13%
Copshop Open Road Films $1,200,000 $4,400,000 3,005 -48%
The Eyes of Tammy Faye Searchlight Pictures $825,000 $1,750,000 1,352 +27%

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.