Labor Day Box Office Eyeing ‘Shang-Chi’ Salvation

Entering the Labor Day weekend, studios typically begin picking winners and losers of the summer box office. But 2021 is hardly typical as studios grapple with surges in the Delta variant infections, cautious moviegoers and further delays of competing tentpole releases.

Hence, the industrywide anticipation surrounding the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s newest superhero actioner, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which opens nationwide across 4,300 screens tonight Sept. 3, including 400 Imax, 850 premium large format, 1,500 3D and 235 D-Box/4D screen locations.

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The movie is also the first Marvel theatrical exclusive (45 days) since Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Far from Home in 2019.

Shang-Chi is atypical on many fronts. Studios tend to debut superhero movies at the beginning or middle of summer, not at the end. But 2021 is a new normal at the box office, with hybrid theatrical/SVOD and theatrical/PVOD releases Godzilla vs. KongA Quiet Place Part IIF9Black WidowJungle CruiseFree Guy and Candyman, among others, targeting largely male consumers through age 40.

Shang-Chi is the first Marvel superhero movie led by an Asian-American character. It is also skipping the controversial box office/PVOD distribution strategy that resulted in Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson filing a lawsuit, alleging Disney/Marvel intentionally released Black Widow on PVOD to undercut her fiscal compensation.

Disney disagreed, taking the unusual step of publicly disclosing Johansson’s $20 million year-to-date compensation.

Regardless, Shang-Chi is projected to generate upwards of $52 million in three-day domestic ticket sales. The movie is expected to help the overall domestic box office exceed last weekend’s total box office $57.6 million through Aug. 29) by upwards of 50%.

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