With the next Marvel movie, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, now under a month away, it’s time to talk about what we expect from the release. Will Simu Liu’s introduction into the MCU soar to great heights or become a flop for the studio? There’s a lot of factors to keep in mind, especially as COVID-19 cases rise, but experts do have early numbers for the film’s opening weekend at the box office.
Shang Chi is set to open exclusively in theaters over Labor Day weekend starting on September 3. The current forecast for its opening weekend is between $35 to $55 million domestically, which could mean it could be looking at becoming the lowest MCU debut of all time. Right now, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk holds that position with a $55.4 million opening weekend and 2015’s Ant-Man is a close second at $57.2 million. But hey, let’s cut the latest Marvel hero some slack here, there’s a lot of adversity here it’s about to push through.
The box office has seen a notable downturn in the past few weeks, with recent releases The Suicide Squad, Jungle Cruise and Free Guy all expected to perform below their potential. The theatrical landscape has changed with the fourth wave of COVID-19 currently underway, with fears being led by the fast-spreading delta variant, especially for the unvaccinated. Based on the current trends, Shang-Chi’s opening may actually serve as a much-needed box office boost.
Plus, Shang-Chi might become the first movie to break the Labor Day weekend record that has remained for 14 years, per Box Office Pro’s forecast. Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake has held the record for all time with $26.4 million in three days and $30.6 million in four. It should also be noted that Labor Day weekend is notoriously not usually a hefty weekend for movie theaters as many leave for late summer vacations.
Another one of the many factors that will affect Shang-Chi’s commercial performance is that it is a relatively unknown hero to audiences and the MCU hasn’t made much interconnection between it and the rest of the universe. Also, the movie will serve as a guinea pig for Marvel and Disney as it is one of the few pandemic-era releases to get a 45-day exclusive theatrical window. Titles like Black Widow, Cruella and Jungle Cruise were afforded extra cash through the Disney+ Premier Access option to stream at home.
July’s Black Widow remains as the highest grossing domestic 2021 release so far with $176.7 million under its belt and $362 worldwide as Scarlett Johansson sues Disney for “breaching” her contract with the film’s hybrid theatrical/streaming release. Check out Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on September 3 and check out what other upcoming Marvel films are on their way here on CinemaBlend.
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Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.