2021 box office hits: ‘Shang-Chi,’ ‘Black Widow’ among biggest money-makers (so far)

The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the world over the past two years, and movie theaters are no exception. Box office revenues are down significantly as some moviegoers have chosen to stay away from crowded indoor events. Yet, theaters are slowly but surely climbing their way back to some level of normalcy, with many films crossing $100 million in the U.S. alone.

The big studios like Disney and Warner Bros. are continuing to lead the pack, even if their films are making slightly less than normal. Disney has already released two films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Black Widow,” with two more on the way in Winter 2021. They’ve also earned hits from new iterations of existing IP, such as “Cruella” and “Jungle Cruise.” Meanwhile, Warner Bros. has an interesting business strategy this year where they are releasing their films simultaneously in theaters and free (with a subscription) on HBO Max. This hasn’t prevented films like “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and the third “Conjuring” film from entering the top of the yearly domestic gross. Check out our photos above to see the current 2021 box office hits in the U.S.

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1. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”

The 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe reigns supreme as the top money-maker at the U.S. box office. “Shang-Chi” tells the origin story of the eponymous superhero (Simu Liu), a gifted martial artist who must confront his past, which includes a power-hungry father.

2. “Black Widow”

After over a decade in the MCU, Black Widow finally got her own film, which co-stars Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz alongside Scarlett Johansson. The film has leveled off at $183 million in its final weeks in theaters.

3. “F9: The Fast Saga”

After four years, the Fast Saga returned with the ninth film in the franchise, in which Vin Diesel’s Dom and his team must take down a terrorist — who happens to be Dom’s brother. The film made the lowest amount of money for a Fast Saga film since 2009’s “Fast & Furious.” 

4. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”

In this sequel to the 2018 blockbuster hit “Venom,” Tom Hardy reprises his role(s) as Eddie Brock and Venom, the alien symbiote he hosts, as he deals with a serial killer (Woody Harrelson) with his own alien-hosting situation. The film’s $90 million opening in early October made it the best opening weekend at the U.S. box office since March 2020.

5. “A Quiet Place Part II”

The second “Quiet Place” film made only slightly less than the first, an impressive feat considering it was released during the prime of the pandemic. The film follows Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her two children try to survive in a world terrorized by sound-sensitive creatures.

6. “Free Guy”

“Free Guy” is the only original film not based on previous IP in the top 10 of this year’s U.S. box office. The film stars Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who comes to find out he’s actually a video game character.

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7. “Jungle Cruise”

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt team up for this adaptation of the Disneyland theme park ride of the same name. Blunt plays a scientist opposite Johnson as a steamboat skipper, who escorts her through treacherous jungles in search of the Tree of Life.

8. “Godzilla vs. Kong”

The combined power of Godzilla and King Kong earned just under $100 million at the American box office, as one of the first major releases of the year in the midst of the pandemic. The film finds the two legendary monsters at war for the future of humanity.

9. “No Time to Die”

The much-delayed 25th film in the James Bond franchise marks Daniel Craig‘s final stint as 007. The actin flick finds Bond recruited by the CIA to defeat a dangerous new villain, and moviegoers are eating it up, landing in the year’s top 10 after just a week in theaters.

10. “Cruella”

Emma Stone stars in Disney’s latest reboot of their animated canon, with the actress playing Dalmatian hunter Cruella de Vil. Stone is expected to return for the sequel, which is in development now.

11. “Space Jam: A New Legacy”

LeBron James helps to bring the 1995 classic “Space Jam” to a new generation, in which the NBA great must unite with Looney Tunes to save his kidnapped son, who is trapped in the WB “Serververse.” It is the first theatrically released film in which the Looney Tunes appear since “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” in 2003.

12. “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”

The success of the third “Conjuring” film proved there’s still life in the ever-expanding horror franchise. In the movie, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren, who investigate demonic possession.

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