BY AARON COUCH | HollywoodReporter.Com
Troy Warren for CNT #Entertainment
Simu Liu stars in Marvel Studios’ first film to debut exclusively in theaters in more than two years.
Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings is making a heroic showing at the box office, where it will smash the record for Labor Day openings.
The Marvel Studios title from filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton grossed $29.6 million in Friday ticket sales from 4,300 locations. Internationally, it has grossed $23.4 million, bringing Shang-Chi‘s combined haul to $53 million. The PG-13 movie, which earned positive reviews and a glowing A Cinemascore, stars Simu Liu as Marvel’s newest hero.
With expectations set for an opening of $75-85 million for the four-day frame, Shang-Chi is poised to be one of the biggest domestic openings of the pandemic and will smash the Labor Day weekend record previously held by the 2007 Halloween, which earned $30.6 over the four-day frame.
With its three-day number expected to be in the $60 million range, Shang-Chi is poised to be the third biggest domestic opening of the year, behind Black Widow, which debuted to $80.3 million over three days in July, while F9 brought in $70 million in late June.
Shang-Chi is a win for the theatrical experience at a time in which the delta variant continues to hamper attendance and day-and-date releases on streaming services have roiled the exhibition business. Unlike previous Marvel release Black Widow, which premiered day-and-date in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access, Shang-Chi will have an exclusive 45-day theatrical release. To date, Black Widow has earned $371.3 million at the global box office and sparked a lawsuit from star Scarlett Johansson, who argued the move hurt the box office in favor of feeding Disney’s streaming service.
Simultaneous releases and Shang-Chi were hot topics at CinemaCon last week, as Disney CEO Bob Chapek has indicated the film will inform the studio’s release strategy going forward. While introducing a screening of Shang-Chi, Rolando Rodriguez, chairman of the National Association of Theatre Owners, urged theater owners to do what they could to help it perform.
“Call it an ask from your chairman of NATO. This is important to all of us,” said Rodriguez. “It’s going to be a great showing from us, to our fantastic friends at the Walt Disney Company … to show them the importance of theatrical exhibition.”
In addition to Liu, Shang-Chi stars Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Tony Leung, Fala Chen and Michelle Yeoh.
Box office holdovers include Universal’s Candyman, which is coming in at No. 2 with $2.8 million on Friday night, falling 69 percent compared to the Friday of its opening weekend. Its cume-to-date is $31.3 million and is expected to earn around $13 million over the four-day frame.
Other Disney-released titles that are still hanging on at the domestic box office include Ryan Reynolds’s Free Guy, which has added $2.1 million from its fourth Friday at the box office for a total of $85.2 million domestic, and Jungle Cruise, which earned $85,000, for a domestic haul of $102.7 million.
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