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Clint Eastwood Is No Match For Shang-Chi As The Marvel Blockbuster Three-peats At The Box Office

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of the Ten Rings SImu Liu Awkwafina Meng'er Zhang

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, people have constantly been looking for aspects of normalcy – moments of peace that help us forget and temporarily escape certain scary aspects of reality. In the last few months the movie-going experience has been a wonderful resource for this, especially since theaters were closed for so long, and Destin Daniel-Cretton's Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings in particular has been providing the vibe since it came out in early September. The film isn't quite making the amount of money we've come to expect from Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbusters, but true to form for the franchise, it is successfully dominating at the box office.

Check out this weekend's full Top 10 in the chart below, and join me after for analysis!

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of the Ten Rings SImu Liu Awkwafina Meng'er Zhang

As things presently stand, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is now on pace to not only becoming the highest grossing domestic release in 2021 thus far, but also to become the first movie of the year to make more than $200 million in North America alone. With the addition of $21.7 million to its total over the last three days, the blockbuster is still sitting behind Cate Shortland's Black Widow, which has made $183.4 million to date, but by this time next week the Simu Liu-led feature will have surpassed that total.

The numbers represent another impressive weekend-to-weekend drop for the Marvel film. Last week it broke with the trend of a lot of 2021 blockbusters, dipping only 53 percent, and now the figures have only gone down a soft 37 percent. It marks the first time this year that a movie has managed to make over $20 million in its third week, which is quite an accomplishment (and it feels like it's something that would have been impossible for the feature had it been released simultaneously on Disney+ via Premier Access).

Of course, these figures will always have to be presented with an asterisk going forward, as while Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is performing exceptionally well by COVID standards, those standards aren't pretty when compared to what we were used to seeing from box office returns before the pandemic. $200 million is an important milestone for the industry right now, but at the same time we are still only a little over two years removed from Joe and Anthony Russo's Avengers: Endgame shattering records with its $357.1 million opening weekend, and Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's Captain Marvel (a.k.a. the last character launch title in the franchise) debuting with a $153.4 million take. It's hard not to wonder how much more the film could have made under normal circumstances.

One nice feather in the new release's cap is that it's no longer on the bottom of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's worldwide box office rankings. Thanks to the money that Shang-Chi made this past week, its global total now stands at $288.9 million, which eclipses the $265.6 million that Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk earned in 2008. When it eventually moves past Black Widow, it will simultaneously also surpass Joe Johnston's Captain America: The First Avenger (as those two titles are currently only separated by a little over $200,000), but after that its climb will likely end. Given its pace, it's hard to imagine the film being able to earn more than $449.3 million before the end of its run, which was the amount brought in by Kenneth Branagh's Thor.

Thus far in 2021, only one film – Adam Wingard's Godzilla vs. Kong – has managed to hold the top spot at the box office for four weeks in a row, but Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings has a chance to match it. Looking at the competition it has coming up (more on that in a moment), it certainly appears as though it stands a good chance.

Shang-Chi vs Razorfist in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings

While the folks at Marvel Studios are surely very happy with what they've seen from Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, it's unlikely that executives at Warner Bros. are getting any warm, fuzzy feelings from the performance of Clint Eastwood's Cry Macho. We can't say with any kind of certainty how well the new feature managed to do digitally, as the studio has not released any official statistics regarding the performances of day-and-date HBO Max releases, but one thing that's clear is that movie-goers didn't show up for the film at the box office. There was surely some expectation that seeing Eastwood back in a cowboy hat would bring in some curious audiences, but that didn't work out when it came to selling tickets.

It's rough that Cry Macho opened in third place, behind both Shang-Chi and Shawn Levy's Free Guy, but far rougher is the meager $4.5 million it was able to bring in since Friday. It marks Clint Eastwood's weakest box office turnout as a director since 1980's Bronco Billy, which made only $3.7 million upon its release (and that's not accounting for inflation). As for why this happened, Variety notes that the movie was targeting older movie-goers, and that's a demographic that has not yet returned to theaters en masse.

At the very least Cry Macho isn't the weakest new wide release of the weekend, as that distinction belongs to Joe Carnahan's CopShop starring Frank Grillo and Gerard Butler. The film played in over 3,000 locations nationwide starting this past Friday, and the end result was an average of just $769 being earned per theater (for comparison, Shang-Chi made an average of $5,332 in 4,070 locations, and that is in its third week). Making just over $2.3 million, it's not a wide release that will be prominently remembered looking back on 2021.

On the milestone front, you'll not only notice that Free Guy has returned to second place in the Top 10, but it has also now joined the limited club of domestic releases that have earned over nine figures since January. It's an exclusive group that includes the aforementioned Shang-Chi and Black Widow, as well as Justin Lin's F9 ($173 million), John Krasinski's A Quiet Place Part II ($160.1 million), and Jaume-Collet Serra's Jungle Cruise ($112.6 million). It's a particularly big deal when you consider that it may be a few months before we see another title reach the threshold.

Looking ahead, the only new wide release that movie-goers will be seeing hit theaters this weekend is Stephen Chbosky's Dear Evan Hansen, which is based on the Tony Award-winning musical and just had its world premiere earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival. Will it be able to find a big enough audience to take down Marvel Studios' latest juggernaut, or will the MCU once again remain king of the box office? Be sure to return to CinemaBlend next Sunday to discover how it all shakes out.

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Eric Eisenberg

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.