The debut of Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is proving to be a huge success for Walt Disney Studios as it continued to dominate box office dollars in its strong second weekend exclusively in theaters. Amidst the uncertain pandemic era at the movies, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has soared to $258 million worldwide, already gaining momentum over Ryan Reynolds’ video-game themed film, Free Guy.
Free Guy hit theaters exclusively one month ago and became one of the only Hollywood films of the summer to receive a release in China. The Ryan Reynolds-led movie has made nearly $277 million worldwide in that time. Shang-Chi stands to catch right up to its numbers even without a China release, per Deadline. Over the weekend it was reported that the major box office market may not host the first Asian-led Marvel film reportedly due in part to comments made by Simu Liu about the Middle Kingdom run by Xi Jinping years ago.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings got its start at the box office with record-shattering Labor Day opening weekend, including a $71.4 million domestic haul. In its second weekend, Shang-Chi retained its spot at No. 1 not only in the U.S. but in major international markets including the UK, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Korea, Italy, Mexico, Russia and Spain. Overall, in its second weekend Shang-Chi only dropped off 34 percent from its debut.
Black Widow in comparison, which opened in early July in theaters alongside a streaming release on Disney+ Premier Access, dropped a rough 67% in its second weekend, which caused some panic to theater exhibitors at the time. And famously, Scarlett Johansson subsequently decided to sue Walt Disney Studios for a breach in contract in regards to how the studio handled its release of her own solo Marvel film.
Shang-Chi’s performance is overall great news for the theatrical market as Hollywood still grapples with shifts in the industry brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in the past year and a half. Ahead of the second weekend, Disney decided to make three more of their major productions theater exclusive films. Encanto, Eternals and West Side Story will get exclusive theatrical windows before becoming at-home releases.
At the moment, Free Guy is at No. 7 in 2021’s top-earning releases at the box office and Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings is just behind it at No. 8. F9 is the top earning Hollywood film of the year with Godzilla vs. Kong, Black Widow and Quiet Place Part II rounding spots four through six.
Shang-Chi was a relatively unknown Marvel hero, so this success really speaks to the Marvel brand on the worldwide movie-going audience. And how much audiences love it certainly has helped its numbers soar as well.