“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” shatters the Labor Day record on its way to a 3-Day $71.4M and 4-Day $83.5M North American box office total. The previous record-holder was the 2007 remake of “Halloween” with $26M 3-Day and $31M 4-Day totals. In beating the previous record by more than 2 ½ times, the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe had to overcome several hurdles that many in the industry thought would conspire to restrict the picture’s ability to realize its ultimate potential.
First and foremost, there is a well-established pattern of weak box office results on Labor Day weekend. Known as the unofficial end of the summer, studios have steered clear of releasing any title of consequence on this date. Second, the media has continued a drum beat to warn of the rise of the Delta variant. Finally, the after-effects of hurricane Ida were still wreaking havoc in the Northeast and Southeastern U.S. The critical New York City market began the weekend with flooded subways and many residents still bailing water out of their basements.
“Shang Chi’s” $83.5M would have been considered a success on almost any weekend in the past. The fact that it produced these results while overcoming challenges of almost Biblical proportions is a testament to movie theatres’ ability to deliver eye-opening, record-breaking grosses.
Disney chose to release “Shang-Chi” in theatres only, and hold off streaming it on Disney+ until 45 days after the initial theatrical release. The weekend results give ammunition to those arguing to maintain traditional theatrical windows. They also argue against making any changes in the fourth quarter release schedule, such as Paramount’s announcement that it was pushing back into 2022 its releases of “Top-Gun: Maverick” and “Jackass Forever”.
The weekend also saw “Candyman” finish second with a gross of $10.6M, a drop of only 52% from its opening weekend, and “Free Guy” continued its stronghold by dropping only 34% to $8.8M. This weekend’s 3-day (Friday-Saturday-Sunday) results came in at 77% of the same weekend in 2019 when “It: Chapter 2” opened. Next week, “Malignant” is the sole picture to open wide so “Shang-Chi” will have a solid chance for a stronghold in its second week.