Shang-Chi Box Office Predictions Are Record-Breaking (Even Pre-Pandemic)

Shang-Chi is predicted to earn over $45 million at the domestic box office in its opening weekend, beating Halloween’s record from 2007.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is predicted to break Labor Day box-office records when it releases later this week. The first Asian-led film in the MCU is set for a solely theatrical release on September 3rd, a rare decision by Disney, who has previously stuck to hybrid releases on Disney+ via premier access for many of their recent films such as Jungle Cruise and Black Widow. The decision to make Shang-Chi’s release solely theatrical came after Black Widow’s Scarlett Johansson sued the company over an alleged breach of contract, which allegedly stipulated an exclusively theatrical release. However, the decision by Disney resulted in a great deal of criticism from fans for not offering audiences an alternative when COVID-19 cases involving the Delta variant were on the rise.

Shang-Chi stars Simu Liu in the titular role as he is drawn back into the clandestine world that he had thought he had escaped and must confront his father, Wenwu (Tony Leung), aka the real Mandarin. The film also stars Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s best friend Katy, Fala Chen as his mother Jiang Li, and Meng’er Zhang as his estranged sister Xialing. Shang-Chi will also see Benedict Wong reprise his role as Wong from Doctor Strange opposite Tim Roth’s Abomination, who returns for the first time since 2009’s The Incredible Hulk. The two will square off in a fighting pit, although it remains to be seen how large a role they will play or how far this will time into the wider MCU.

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As with any big-budget marvel release, there is a great deal of hype surrounding Shang-Chi’s release. Now Deadline is reporting that the film is predicted to earn around $45 to $50 million in its opening weekend, which would break the record for highest-earning film over a Labor Day weekend. The record is currently held by Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake of Halloween. Deadline also claims that some are predicting an even higher turnover for the superhero film. Still, considering how much the box office can fluctuate at the moment, it’s hard to make an accurate prediction, so it’s better to be conservative.

Typically speaking, studios tend to avoid releasing films over the Labor Day weekend, which marks the last vestige of the summer season, due to a belief that fewer people attend cinemas during this time. Halloween only grossed $30 million over its opening weekend in 2007 and still holds the record attests to this fact. While the estimates given for Shang-Chi are notably low for a Marvel film, despite its positive reviews, it at least has the excuse of the pandemic which continues to affect box-office attendance – a 2007 release has no such excuse. However, horror is not exactly a genre with wide audience appeal.

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As noted previously, however, it’s difficult to predict box-office performance at the moment, even for a Marvel release like Shang-Chi. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad came in below predictions when it was released earlier this month, earning just over $26 million against its $30 million estimates (which itself was considered a low estimate by some). However, if anyone can draw a crowd during a quiet weekend, then it’s likely to be Marvel. It won’t have any significant opposition either, aside from the previous week’s top release of Candyman.

That said, it’s entirely possible that the release could backfire on Disney, especially as families represent a significant part of their audience and young children still can’t be vaccinated. Without Disney+ to fall back on, the solely theatrical release marks a considerable gamble. However, fellow Disney release Free Guy succeeded under similar circumstances and was adult-orientated. So there is still a strong chance that Shang-Chi may prove the exception to the rule and be a record-breaking opening that Disney is hoping for when it releases on September 3rd.

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