‘Shang-Chi’ Leads Box Office Again With Stronger Hold Than ‘Black Widow’

Theatrically exclusive MCU film is now ahead of the pace set by its day-and-date counterpart

Awkwafina, Ronny Chieng and Simu Liu in "Shang-Chi" (Disney/Marvel Studios)

This weekend is shaping up to be a good one for theaters, as “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is putting up a stronger second weekend than “Black Widow,” which had been released day-and-date on Disney+ two months ago.

After grossing $9.7 million on its second Friday, “Shang-Chi” is now estimated for a second weekend total of $32 million, higher than the $25 million grossed by “Black Widow” in its second weekend. This also means that “Shang-Chi” has a stronger box office pace with an estimated $141 million 10-day total, compared to $131 million for “Black Widow.”

When “Black Widow” took a sharper-than-expected second-weekend drop at theaters, the National Association of Theater Owners blamed the film’s availability as a paid streaming title on Disney+ as the reason for that hit. Theater owners have been hoping that the strong Labor Day opening of “Shang-Chi” would convince Disney to phase out the day-and-date model. They got their wish on Friday when Disney announced that all of its remaining 2021 releases would have a 45-day theatrical exclusive window with the exception of the animated film “Encanto,” which would have a 30-day window.

Outside of “Shang-Chi,” films in the Top 5 remain very low this weekend. In a tie for second is Warner Bros./New Line’s “Malignant” and 20th Century Studios’ “Free Guy” with approximately $5.2 million grossed each. “Malignant” is the latest horror film from James Wan and was released this weekend on 3,485 screens. While critics were positive with a 75% Rotten Tomatoes score, audiences were decidedly lukewarm with a 49% RT audience score and a C on CinemaScore.

“Free Guy,” meanwhile, will become the seventh film of 2021 and the fourth distributed by Disney to cross the $100 million domestic mark after five weekends in theaters, holding an estimated domestic total of $101 million. It’s also a victory for original filmmaking as the Shawn Levy/Ryan Reynolds action-comedy is the first film not based on previously existing IP to hit that $100 million mark, legging out from a $28.3 million opening.

Universal/MGM’s “Candyman” takes fourth with $4.2 million in its third weekend and a $47.4 million total. Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” completes the Top 5 with $2.1 million in its seventh weekend and a $109.5 million total.

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