In a clear sign that audiences will return to movie theaters if given no other option to see new films, Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” shattered box office records over Labor Day weekend with an estimated $90 million in ticket sales. (The previous Labor Day weekend ruler was 2007’s “Halloween,” which grossed more than $30 million.)
Unlike other Disney releases this year, notably fellow Marvel entry “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi” was a theatrical-only affair; Disney did not offer the film to Disney Plus subscribers for an added fee of $30, as the studio had done with previous titles. That meant audiences were given no choice if they wanted to see the first Marvel movie with an Asian lead (breakout star Simu Liu) and predominantly Asian cast (including Awkwafina, Tony Leung, and Michelle Yeoh). The exclusivity resulted in the second-biggest three-day debut of the year ($75.5 million), behind only “Black Widow” — which while available as a simultaneous release, came out during a relative lull in the coronavirus pandemic and featured a character whom Marvel audiences had followed for a decade.
In comparison to other Marvel character debuts, “Shang-Chi” stood tall as well: across the traditional three-day weekend, the movie grossed more than the first “Captain America,” “Thor,” and “Ant-Man” features.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top three movies at the box office over Labor Day weekend were all theatrical-only releases: In second, “Candyman” earned an estimated $13.3 million over the four days, while “Free Guy” topped $11 million (pushing its overall total to just over $94 million).
The top-five was rounded out by a pair of day-and-date releases: “PAW Patrol,” which earned roughly $5.4 million (and is available now on Paramount Plus), and “Jungle Cruise,” which grossed $5 million (and is available as a Premier Access title on Disney Plus). “Jungle Cruise” has now grossed more than $105 million at the domestic box office.
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