The success of the Labor Day box office was an uplifting finale to the 2021 summer movie season. The period from Memorial Day to Labor Day 2021 produced $1.75 billion in Domestic grosses, eight times the revenue generated during the same period in 2020. “Shang-Chi’s” $94.7 million 4-day results set a new record as the highest Labor Day movie opening in history. Not to get too carried away, exhibitors are still facing an uneven landscape of obstacles, from mask mandates to vaccine passports. Family films have struggled all year, evidenced by films such as “Paw Patrol: The Movie” generating only $13 million at the box office and others such as “Clifford the Big Red Dog” being removed from the release schedule entirely. There is also a troubling pattern of large second-week decline in ticket sales for studio releases such as “Black Widow”, “F9” and “The Suicide Squad”. Exhibitors point today & date releasing as the single biggest factor leading to the drop-off, noting that movies such as “Free Guy” which opened in theatres exclusively did not suffer the same results. “Shang-Chi’s” success has had the effect of firming up the remaining movies release schedule for 2021, stocked with a lineup of big commercial films that should sustain the recovery in moviegoing.
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