Shang-Chi nabs an easy victory at the box-office with a sophomore weekend estimate of $35.8M, bringing its running total to $145.6M. That is the third biggest weekend for a September release since the two It movies. The latest Marvel superhero previously surpassed expectations with a record-shattering Labor Day four-day debut of $94.7M. Of course, Shang-Chi also punched through $100M in just five days, one day faster than Black Widow and faster than any movie this year. The hype surrounding the film resulted in a second weekend drop of just -52.5%. Excluding Widow, the MCU films usually hold well in the second weekend: Endgame dropped 59%, Spider-Man: Far From Home slipped 51%, Captain Marvel fell 56%, and Thor: Ragnarok dropped 54%. Lacking any meaningful competition until October, expect Shang-Chi’s lead to continue for a while.
This weekend’s challenge came from Warner Bros.’ new release Malignant. Taking a break from directing Aquaman, James Wan (the mind behind the Saw, Insidious and Conjuring franchises) has returned to horror. It may not be Halloween yet, but spooky season is alive and well for moviegoers. However, unlike previous horror titles of the pandemic, Malignant underwhelmed with a $5.6M debut. That was still enough for third place this weekend.
Second place actually went to Free Guy, which once again had a fantastic hold of just -34.5% going into its fifth weekend. Earning $5.8M more at the box-office, Free Guy has also crossed the $100M milestone – with a to-date gross of $101.8M. Free Guy, Jungle Cruise and Shang-Chi have given Disney an 80% majority over this weekend’s $60.4M total box-office.
Shang-Chi’s success sealed the deal for Disney: the movies are better as theatrical exclusives first. The studio claims five of the top eight domestic releases this year. Even the studio’s day-and-date movies like Jungle Cruise and Cruella saw holds in the low 20-30% after its sophomore weekend – Disney Plus is great, but moviegoers returned to theaters to see it better on the big screen.
Committed to the best cinematic experience, Disney confirmed that all six of the studio’s remaining 2021 films will be exclusive to theaters first, with all but one getting an exclusive 45-day window. Marvel’s Eternals (11/05) along with The Last Duel (10/15), West Side Story (12/10), Ron’s Gone Wrong (10/22), and The King’s Man (12/22) will all be exclusive to theaters for 45 days, while the animated Encanto got 30 days.
In a recent poll, Fandango ticket buyers said that their top most anticipated movies for this fall are (in this order): Eternals, No Time to Die, Dune, Ghostbusters: AfterLife, and Venom: Let There Be Carnage. The only day-and-date of the bunch is Dune – part of the year-long HBO Max promotion that Warner Bros previously said would end in 2022. The new normal the industry expects in the post-pandemic era (when we get there) continues to include the 45-day theatrical window.
With more blockbusters on the horizon, the nation’s largest movie chain (AMC Theatres) has launched an “unprecedented” ad campaign to reach moviegoers at home. Starring Nicole Kidman – in a dazzling pantsuit that reminds me of an old space costume – the campaign aims to remind people of a magic that can only be found in a movie theatre. It started to play yesterday online, on social media platforms, in theaters, and on network television.