‘Shang-Chi’ Passes ‘Black Widow’ as Top 2021 U.S. Box Office Release

The Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has surpassed Marvel Studios’ Black Widow as the top-grossing domestic movie with three months left in the 2021 box office.

Shang-Chi, starring Chinese-born Simu Liu, generated $3.59 million across 3,952 theaters Friday night (Sept. 24) to reach $186.7 million. That figure tops the previous polesitter, Marvel’s Black Widow, with $183.4 million. Shang-Chi is expected to dominate the domestic box office for the fourth consecutive weekend.

Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, still leads the global box office with $378.3 million, compared to $330.8 million for Shang-Chi.

Both titles, along with other major Hollywood releases, have not yet been released in China, the world’s No. 2 box office market. While no official reason has been given, reports suggest that with the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party occurring this summer, the Chinese government is reluctant to showcase western movies.

Despite Shang-Chi featuring a largely Asian cast, including Liu, the actor emigrated to Canada with his parents at the age of five — a move, media reports suggest, was largely due to his parents’ opposition to communism.

Regardless, the success of the two movies heralds back to Disney’s triumphant pre-pandemic 2019 box office, when it tallied more than $11 billion in global ticket sales — largely on the back of Marvel superhero movies, and the Chinese box office.

Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’ Enters U.K. Home Entertainment Chart No. 1

Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Widow entered the Official Film Chart in the U.K. at No. 1 for the week ended Sept. 22, thanks to DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K UHD Blu-ray unit sales.

Bob Odenkirk actioner Nobody (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) climbed three spots to No. 2, pushing last week’s chart-topper, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) to No. 3. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Monster Hunter finished No. 4, due in large part as the week’s largest digital transaction.

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Further down, Warner Home Video’s Dream Horse climbed 19 spots to No. 7, crossing the finish line in the Top 10 for the first time.

Starring Toni Collette and Owen Teale, the film shares the true story of an unlikely racehorse, Dream Alliance, funded by his owners’ neighbors chipping in what little earnings they had. With grit and determination, Dream rises through the ranks of the horseracing elites, proving that despite a humble background, you can have the heart of a champion.

The Official Film Chart Top 10 – Sept. 22, 2021

Last Week Position Movie Distributor
NEW 1 BLACK WIDOW MARVEL FILMS
5 2 NOBODY UNIVERSAL PICTURES
1 3 HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD LIONSGATE
3 4 MONSTER HUNTER SONY PICTURES HE
2 5 THE CONJURING – THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT WARNER HOME VIDEO
4 6 A QUIET PLACE – PT II PARAMOUNT
26 7 DREAM HORSE WARNER HOME VIDEO
6 8 PETER RABBIT 2 SONY PICTURES HE
10 9 ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE WARNER HOME VIDEO
7 10 CRUELLA WALT DISNEY

© Official Charts Company 2021

Marvel Studios Ups Victoria Alonso to President of Physical and Post Production

Marvel Studios Sept. 20 announced the promotion of longtime executive Victoria Alonso to President of Physical and Post Production, Visual Effects, and Animation. Alonso, a native of Buenos Aires, was formerly the EVP of Production at Marvel Studios.

In her new position, Alonso will oversee VFX, animation and post production on all Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, in addition to episodic productions for Disney+. She reports to Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito.

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Victoria Alonso

“Victoria has been an incredible partner and part of our team since the very first Iron Man [in 2006],” D’Esposito said in a statement. “She is one of the most dynamic, candid and accessible executives in the industry and we’re thrilled that she’ll continue to be by our side in this elevated role as we lead Marvel Studios into the future.”

Alonso’s co-producer credits include: Iron ManIron Man 2Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, and an executive producer on The AvengersMarvel One-Shot: Item 47Iron Man 3Marvel One-Shot: Agent CarterThor: The Dark WorldMarvel One-Shot: All Hail the KingCaptain America: The Winter SoldierGuardians of the GalaxyAvengers: Age of UltronAnt-ManCaptain America: Civil WarDoctor StrangeGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Spider-Man: HomecomingThor: RagnarokBlack PantherAvengers: Infinity WarAnt-Man and the WaspCaptain MarvelAvengers: EndgameSpider-Man: Far From HomeWandaVisionThe Falcon and The Winter SoldierLokiBlack WidowWhat If…?Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten RingsEternalsSpider-Man: No Way HomeDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessThor: Love and ThunderSecret InvasionBlack Panther: Wakanda ForeverThe Marvels and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Disney’s ‘Shang-Chi’ Leads Sluggish Weekend Box Office

The Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings again led all movies at the domestic box office, generating an estimated $21.7 million in ticket sales through Sept. 19. The tally is expected to push the movie past Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow ($183.2 million) as the top-grossing domestic movie in the pandemic era.

While Shang-Chi performed as expected, the title received a setback of sorts when the Chinese government did not include it in its list of approved theatrical releases — as it did for MGM’s latest James Bond actioner No Time to Die (Oct. 29) and Warner Bros. Pictures’ Dune (Oct. 22). As usual, politics is playing a role as both the lead star and director of Shang-Chi are Chinese ex-patriots.

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Meanwhile, 91-year-old director/actor Clint Eastwood’s drama Cry Macho did not replicate the icon’s previous effort, The Mule, generating $4.5 million across 3,967 screens — to finish third behind 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy with around $5 million ($108.3 million).

The other new release, Open Road’s Copshop, starring Gerard Butler, generated $2.2 million across more than 3,000 screens to finish outside the Top 5.

The Universal Pictures horror sequel Candyman tallied $3.5 million ($53 million) for fourth place, while Warner’s horror film Malignant saw $2.6 million in ticket sales ($9.7 million). The movie is streaming for free to HBO Max subscribers for 31 days.

Marvel’s ‘Hawkeye’ Series to Premiere on Disney+ Nov. 24

Marvel Studios’ “Hawkeye,” the next Marvel Cinematic Universe original series, will premiere on the Disney+ streaming service Nov. 24. New episodes will become available on subsequent Wednesdays according to a Sept. 13 announcement from Disney+, which also bowed a trailer and promotional poster for the show.

The six-episode series stars Academy Award nominees Jeremy Renner, reprising his role as Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye the archer from the Avengers, and Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop.

Set during the holiday season, the show finds Hawkeye trying to get back to his family for Christmas when a presence from his past threatens to derail his plans. He finds an unlikely ally in Kate, a 22-year-old archer with dreams of becoming a superhero.

The cast also includes Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James, with Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez/Echo. In addition, Florence Pugh is expected to appear as Yelena Belova, continuing her story arc from Black Widow.

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Black Widow

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/14/21;
Disney/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $183.1 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence/action, some language and thematic material.
Stars Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenie, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, Olga Kurylenko.

The 24th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon finally puts the focus on Black Widow, the enigmatic member of the Avengers whose primary character arc has been seeking redemption for past misdeeds from her life as a Russian spy and assassin.

The film is mostly set in between the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, when Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is on the run after betraying Black Panther during the feud between Iron Man and Captain America that shattered the Avengers superhero team.

We also learn more about Natasha’s backstory, thanks to an opening flashback to her youth when she was posing as the daughter for a family of Russian sleeper agents in Ohio. When the mission ends, she and her “sister” Yelena are sent to the Red Room, a secret Russian program that has been re-conditioning young girls into deadly secret agents for decades.

Natasha believes she destroyed the Red Room when she defected from Russia, but soon learns from the adult Yelena (Florence Pugh) that not only does it still exist, but it has refined its methods for brainwashing its army of girls. Yelena has come across a chemical that can restore their free will, but is now on the run herself, pursued by the Taskmaster, the Terminator-esque enforcer of the Red Room.

To stop the Red Room once and for all, Natasha and Yelena must recruit their former “parents” (David Harbour and Rachel Weisz) for an explosive family reunion.

In both style and story, Black Widow positions itself as a sequel to Civil War and a spinoff of the “Captain America” movies. Director Cate Shortland takes a lot of cues from how the Russo Brothers established the espionage thriller tone of their corner of the franchise in both Civil War and 2014’s Captain America: Winter Soldier.

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While Black Widow has a wealth of comic book source material to draw from, it plays less like a superhero movie and more like a female-centric homage to James Bond, with story points and action sequences that seem directly inspired by the long-running spy franchise (aside from an opening sequence that is more in line with “The Americans”).

This seems to have set off a divide among online fans. A number of comic book fans have been complaining about unfulfilled expectations about adapting the comics lore. Meanwhile, those who might not be as familiar with the comic books and are fans because of the movie side of things are more likely to see this as a fun action thriller, though it’s hard to deny it resorts to some narrative shortcuts in its final act.

Still, it’s a fun movie that looks great and offers some fantastic action. Johansson does a nice job fleshing out a character mostly relegated to a supporting role before now, but the MVP of the film is Pugh, whose Yelena character is now well established to carry forward in the MCU.

Be warned, though. This being the new era of MCU on Disney+ means that viewing the Disney+ Marvel shows will give a better appreciation of how the post-credits scene pushes the new phase of the MCU forward.

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The Blu-ray includes a one-minute introduction to the film from Shortland, who discusses how she wanted to explore Natasha’s character  by giving her a family. To this end, the five-minute featurette “Sisters Gonna Work It Out” explores the relationship between Natasha and Yelena, and the actresses who play them.

The nine-minute “Go Big if You’re Going Home” featurette covers more of the making of the film in general, giving a glimpse of the film’s on-location shooting, its visual effects and its complicated stunts.

The Blu-ray also includes a three-minute gag reel, plus 14 minutes of deleted scenes that offer a few quiet character moments but mostly expand upon concepts that are already in the film.

The extras are contained on the regular Blu-ray Disc of the film included with the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack. The 4K disc offers just the movie.

Originally published as a theatrical review July 12, 2021.

Disney to Bow Remaining 2021 Theatrical Slate Exclusively at Box Office

Disney’s pandemic-era experiment releasing theatrical movies simultaneously at a premium price ($29.99) on Disney+ is done for 2021. In a big win for exhibitors, the studio Sept. 10 announced that its remaining theatrical slate would have a 30/45-day box office exclusivity each movie’s debut.

The remaining 2021 releases include The Last Duel (Oct. 15), Ron’s Gone Wrong (Oct. 22), Marvel’s Eternals (Nov. 5), Encanto (Nov. 24), Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (Dec. 10) and Kingsman prequel The King’s Man (Dec. 22).

Disney is riding high on the current theatrical success of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which has exceeded the studio’s expectations, including topping the domestic box office for a second straight weekend with $35.8 million.

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The studio previously experimented by simultaneously releasing box office releases Raya and the Last Dragon, Cruella, Black Widow and Jungle Cruise as a $29.99 Premier Access add-on for Disney+ subscribers.

Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the strategy, alleging breach of contract. Disney said it generated $60 million in Premier Access revenue from Black Widow its first weekend and gave Johansson as piece of that, though the actress alleges the strategy in general undercut her potential compensation based on a percentage of the box office.

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%.

Loki

STREAMING REVIEW:

Disney+;
Sci-Fi;
Not rated.
Stars Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku, Eugene Cordero, Richard E. Grant, Jack Veal, Tara Strong.

A happenstance of the time travel plot of Avengers: Endgame becomes the key to redefining the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

As fans will recall, the Avengers’ attempt to pluck an infinity stone from the events of the 2012 Avengers movie go awry when the imprisoned Loki is able to grab one and transport away.

“Loki” the series picks up immediately after that, as the newly loose god of mischief is quickly arrested by the Time Variance Authority, an organization that exists outside linear time tasked with maintaining a single cohesive timeline. Loki, being a variant from how events should have occurred (aka the MCU after 2012), is then recruited by TVA agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) to help fight a bigger threat to the timeline — a woman named Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) who wants to bring down the power behind the organization, the mysterious Timekeepers.

The six-episode arc provides quite a showcase for HIddleston, whose wry performance reminds us why we love his character so much despite his misdeeds.

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With its time travel premise and British actors at its core, “Loki” at times gives off strong “Doctor Who” vibes, particularly a third episode that lays a lot of groundwork for the character dynamics between Loki and Sylvie. The interplay between Hiddleston and Wilson also is particularly strong.

The way the storyline plays out, Loki’s adventures through time will have huge ramifications for several upcoming MCU movies, particularly Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Loki’s own attempts to deal with the aftermath of his actions will be dealt with in season two.

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‘Black Widow’ Bites Big as Marvel Cinematic Universe Returns Atop Domestic Weekend Box Office

Disney/Marvel Studios super hero tentpole release Black Widow ended the domestic box office weekend (through July 11) as most of its Marvel predecessors did: at No. 1.

The Scarlett Johansson-starrer generated $80 million across 4,160 screens over the three-day period. The first Marvel theatrical release in two years saw $39.5 million in ticket sales on Friday July 9 — the 10th biggest opening night for a June movie release. Black Window had generated generated more than $22 million at the foreign box office entering the weekend, pushing the title’s global haul past $215 million.

The movie also generated more than $60 million on subscription streaming service Disney+, where it is available for $29.99 purchase only.

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Meanwhile, Universal Pictures’ trio of sequel releases that dominated the previous weekend’s box office continued strong, with F9: The Fast Saga generating more than $10 million, followed by The Boss Baby: Family Business with more than $8 million, and The Forever Purge with almost $7 million. Paramount Pictures’ enduring A Quiet Place Part II held strong with about $3 million — topping $150 million in domestic ticket sales.

The tallies suggest vaccinated moviegoers are returning to cinemas in greater numbers as business-as-usual returns to many public events following the pandemic — despite the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant in new COVID-19 infections.

(This story was updated on July 12)