Sans Streaming Release, ‘Shang-Chi’ Smashes Box Office Records

The success could mean Disney and other major studios will take a second look at their release strategies
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Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings crushed all previous Labor Day Weekend box office records by bringing in $94.4 million domestically in its first four days and—unlike every other big pandemic release from Marvel parent Disney—it made its money without streaming in a single home. So does this mean Disney and other major studios will take another look at their strategy of releasing movies in theaters and on streaming services simultaneously? Maybe!

Although Shang-Chi slaughtered the $30 million record set by Rob Zombie with 2007’s Halloween, without Monday’s receipts it only had the pandemic’s second-best opening weekend with $75.5 million, trailing Black Widow’s three-day total of $80 million even though Disney saddled the Scarlett Johansson flick with a same-day release on Disney+—causing Johansson to sue the Mouse House over potentially unrealized profits.

As the BBC notes, despite Widow’s impressive opening, it plummeted to $26.3 million in its second weekend, a 67 percent decline in ticket sales. However, Shang-Chi has an advantage over Black Widow (aside from being just the second MCU film following Spider-Man: Far from Home to have the decency to take place after the events of Avengers: Endgame in that FUBAR timeline) because it was given a 45-day exclusive theatrical release.

This could give theater-lovers hope that Shang-Chi makes another strong showing next weekend, especially since Disney CEO Bob Chapek has indicated that how well Shang-Chi does in theaters will inform how the studio releases its future would-be Avengers juggernauts, such as November 5’s Eternals. However, star Simu Liu was not pleased last month when Chapek called the Shang-Chi theatrical window an “interested experiment.”

Noting that he’s “fired the fuck up” to “make history,” Liu tweeted, “We are not an experiment. We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise.”

So far, Black Widow has earned $371.3 million worldwide since July 9, while Shang-Chi has taken in $146.2 million globally—and it hasn’t even opened in China yet.


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