Shang-Chi’s opening numbers offer some light at the end of the tunnel for the theater industry. The film raked in $71 million in domestic box office sales last weekend. That does not include Labor Day earnings of $19 million. The totals are not outstanding but, when put in context, are impressive.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has a few things working against it. First, a pandemic and thriving Delta variant. Many are still staying home to avoid large crowds. We saw its effects on Black Widow; the film had a large opening day but trailed off by Sunday. Fans went out, but walk-up theatergoers never showed up.
Another threat to Shang-Chi’s success is its heroes mainstream premier. He is not a well-known character, like Captain America or Thor, so sales rely on advertisements to raise his awareness. Shang-Chi is also the first Asian lead in a superhero film, meaning the film would be making history.
So how did the movie perform? Shang-Chi’s $71 million is on the lower end at first glance. But when we compare it to other MCU films in a similar situation, we can see how strong it really was.
When compared to other pandemic-era films, Shang-Chi killed it. Black Widow pulled in $80 million. Black Widow is an established Avenger, giving it an advantage. Meanwhile, Shang-Chi towers over other pandemic-era releases. Even popular films like A Quiet Place: Part II with $48 million and F9 with $70 million fall short.
Shang-Chi beats out many MCU premier films. Captain America and Thor had $65m, Ant-Man had $57m, and Hulk brought in only $55m. In recent years, Marvel movies are guaranteed hits, but Shang-Chi at least holds up to some big names.
Shang-Chi was a test of sorts. Disney stated so a couple of months passed. They wanted to see how the film would do without the Disney+ backup plan. Shang-Chi will launch on the streaming platform on October 18th. The film’s success would decide The Eternals’ fate. It would either release as planned or be delayed. Disney has not revealed a decision yet. Sony believes the film is a good sign. They have moved up the Venom: Let There be Carnage release to October 1st.
The true test for Shang-Chi comes next weekend. Can the film hold up beyond the opening weekend and Labor Day boost? If it can, this may be the hope theaters needed. The industry might be back in business.