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Shang-Chi Brings In Less Than Black Widow For It's Opening Weekend At The Box Office


JayC
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Marvel's second movie to open in theaters since the COVID pandemic began in 2020 had what I would consider to be a less than stellar opening weekend at the box office despite how some media sites are trying to portray it.

According to THR the movie is expected to only bring in around $60 million domestically this weekend which is being hyped by some as the third biggest opening weekend for a movie since the pandemic began, coming in behind F9 and Black Widow. Now saying the movie had the third biggest take might sound impressive if it wasn't for the fact I can count on one hand how many movies that I would consider to be big box office movies have actually opened in theaters since the pandemic began. The reality is most studios have either chosen to delay the release of such movies or release them direct to home via streaming services.

Also lets not kid ourselves, Shang-Chi isn't just any movie. It's a MCU Marvel movie, and the fact it didn't bring in as much money from theaters as Black Widow did which was released in theaters and at home at the same time is really glaring to me. Black Widow for it's opening weekend brought in $80 million from domestic movie theaters while bringing in an additional $60 million from people who watched it at home on Disney+. That's a total of $140 million for it's domestic opening weekend. So not only is Shang-Chi not coming close to bringing in what Black Widow did for it's opening weekend, the fact it didn't even bring in as much at theaters as Black Widow did at theaters shows a problem in my view. A movie that could only be watched in theaters you would think would at least bring in more from theaters than one you could watch at both home and theaters right?

Me pointing all this out isn't to say Shang-Chi is a bad movie. In fact everything I have been hearing about the movie suggests it is actually a pretty good one and perhaps even better than Black Widow. No my point is that I don't think this movie's opening weekend can or should be painted as a win for the studio and that perhaps studio's need to quit trying to force people to go watch these things in movie theaters. I am all for doing simultaneous releases at both home and theaters, so that people who in fact prefer to watch these at the theater can, but trying to force people who don't want to watch it in theaters in my view needs to stop. It's obviously not working and trying to spin it like it is seems ridiculous to me.

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The guy writing the article hasn't seen it. Dude go see it. It's REALLY good. I don't see how this is a bad showing. Shang Chi is a virtually unknown property. Most comic book savants didn't even know of him or what he's about. He seems like just an average human. He's not Captain Shang Chi or Shang Chi Man. He doesn't have name recognition like a Hulk or Thor. The movie wasn't marketed as a must see Marvel movie connected to the others. I think Shang Chi will have legs because it's so good. Word of mouth will spread. This movie with the fight scenes and effects is NOT for watching in a 42 inch TV. 

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It’s a bit unfair to criticize Disney, in my opinion. They likely went this route because of Scarlet Johansson’s lawsuit. The contracts for the actors and actresses in Shang Chi are likely the same as hers, meaning they get paid based on box office. If the Disney+ premium watchers suppressed the box office numbers for this film due to a simultaneous release, they would be in the same situation they find themselves in with Scarlet Johansson. Going forward the movie industry needs to and will adjust the way these contracts determine what/how the acting talent gets paid. In the long run I doubt the theater industry ever makes a complete comeback. That’s disheartening as an MCU fan as I’m concerned if the quality will dip, or cease altogether if Disney determines they can no longer bank on $800m to $1b in box office receipts on these films. If anything, this proves that the Disney+ premium sales for Black Widow didn’t suppress its box office numbers as much as Scarlett Johansson felt it did.

The truth is that there’s still a large contingent of the population which is uncomfortable cramming themselves into theaters sprinkled with unvaccinated and non-mask wearing viewers for several hours.

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Labor Day is historically a really crappy opening weekend for movies, and this movie pretty much doubled the previously-standing record for it.  So it's not quite the huge disappointment this article makes it out to be.  I agree that the hybrid theater/home viewing is the way to go, but the problem is that model is getting the studios in trouble with their talent.  Hard to make movies if no actors will work for you because you now have a reputation for screwing actors and directors out of (potentially) millions of dollars.

The studios and the talent need to sit down and hammer all this crap out, but for now the big studios are trying to hide behind contracts that were written when COVID wasn't even a thing, and using that to save money not having to pay actors/directors/etc...  And moving forward Hollywood Agents are going to have to figure out how to negotiate around streaming royalties (and you know the studios are going to fight tooth and nail to pay as little as possible).  

The studios ARE in a rough spot...they can't make ANY money if they don't release movies in some form or another, but they way they've been doing it has been all about preserving the studios and not about making sure people get paid what they're likely due.  Bottom line is it's a mess, and in the grand scheme of things all of the movies that have hit in the last two year and probably well into next year now (because too many morons would rather eat horse dewormer than get vaccinated and big chunks of the world are still way behind on vaccination even if their folks are willing) are probably just going to be written off as COVID related anomalies. 

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I'm stoked to see this, but don't plan on going to a movie theater again anytime soon and certainly not in 2021. Had previously seen every Marvel movie on opening weekend up until Black Widow, which I still haven't seen. Waiting for them to be "free" on Disney+. The release windows are short enough now that there's not really any incentive for me to go drop $100+ for my family of 4 to see a movie anymore when we can watch it at home a few weeks later as part of our monthly subscriptions that we're already paying. That's regardless of the pandemic going on that I don't have the luxury of ignoring because I work at a large hospital and am confronted by it's impact every single day.

My key question out of all of this is when do we get a dang Razor-Fist figure?!?

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I think the pandemic accelerated a dilemma that movie studios and theaters were already facing and going to have to deal with, which is that many people would rather watch these movies in the privacy of their own homes. There used to be a kind of romantic idea of going to the movie theater as an event, as a communal thing that people did as a society, but in general we've all gotten a little more selfish and complacent about our entertainment needs. COVID forcing theaters to shut down and super-charging streaming platform businesses like Disney+, HBOMax, etc. crystalized for a lot fo people the convenience of watching a brand new movie at home where a) You can watch whenever you want; you can stop it in the middle to go to the bathroom or get a drink or rewind it because you missed something, y'know all the reasons people used to enjoy home video releases but they don't have to wait six months; b) the movie theater experience can be crappy for some people; it can be too crowded, there are little kids running around that shouldn't be in this theater, someone spills something on your feet, you're stuck sitting next to a couple guys who smoked up in the parking lot, people are on their phones or won't shut up; c) watching the movie on a streaming service means YOU can be the @$$hole on his cellphone the entire movie and nobody gonna judge you for it! 😄

If the pandemic ended tomorrow, I don't think the movie business would just return to how it was in 2019. Disney, Warner Bros., Universal... they're all thinking very hard about their business models because none of them can count on billion dollar summer tentpoles going forward. I think the cost of a Disney+ subscription will go up and I think the premium access cost of $30 will go up, OR it won't permanently unlock the movie, you'll have to pay a fee for each repeated viewing. 

And this puts Sony in a real bind because they don't have a streaming platform to offer an alternative. And their entertainment division has been living on borrowed time for almost a decade. They NEED Spider-Man: No Way Home to be a smash hit. And it *might* because of the event nature of the movie and everything going into it, and it'll be out around the Christmas holiday. Maybe if it stays in the theater for months it'll make that billion dollars, but... yeesh, they've gotta be on pins and needles there waiting for the day when the company decides it'll be easier to sell off the movies and TV assets (which Disney will be all-too happy to gobble up). 

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Update: Variety is reporting that Shung-Chi is bringing in a little bit more than THR had reported, stating the film brought in $71.4 million over the course of three days as opposed to only $60 million. This at least edges out F9 which brought in $70 million for it's opening weekend earlier this year.

Black Widow is the only other MCU movie to have been released since the COVID pandemic began. It brought in $80 million from theaters alone in it's opening three days with an additional $60 million from Disney+ viewers. Now Shung-Chi has the advantage of opening on a 4-day holiday weekend and is expected to bring in somewhere in the neighborhood of $83.5 million from theaters over the course of 4 days. So in four days Shung-Chi might be able to eek out a little bit more than what Black Widow did in three days at theaters, but when you factor in the extra $60 million Black Widow brought in from Disney+, you can see Shung-Chi doesn't even come close to matching the overall box office take.

Now some people are seemingly trying to make this about which movie is better, Black Widow or Shung-Chi which is not the point I was trying to make below. The point I was making which I feel are backed up even with these updated numbers is many people are simply not ready to go back to theaters. So trying to force them to especially now with COVID ramping back up is ridiculous in my humble opinion. I fully support a simultaneous release at both home and theaters. I say let the consumer decide for themselves which way they prefer to view these things, and if people want to go to the theater then I say more power to them. However for those who don't, I think it's far past time they be listened to as well.

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On 9/5/2021 at 12:26 PM, RyanDaly said:

There used to be a kind of romantic idea of going to the movie theater as an event, as a communal thing that people did as a society, but in general we've all gotten a little more selfish and complacent about our entertainment needs. COVID forcing theaters to shut down and super-charging streaming platform businesses like Disney+, HBOMax, etc. crystalized for a lot fo people the convenience of watching a brand new movie at home where a) You can watch whenever you want; you can stop it in the middle to go to the bathroom or get a drink or rewind it because you missed something, y'know all the reasons people used to enjoy home video releases but they don't have to wait six months; b) the movie theater experience can be crappy for some people; it can be too crowded, there are little kids running around that shouldn't be in this theater, someone spills something on your feet, you're stuck sitting next to a couple guys who smoked up in the parking lot, people are on their phones or won't shut up; c) watching the movie on a streaming service means YOU can be the @$$hole on his cellphone the entire movie and nobody gonna judge you for it! 

In addition, the picture and sound quality that people have in their homes can be comparable to a movie theater.  I remember watching The Simpsons with my whole family on the little 13" tube TV in the living room back when it first came out.  Now I'm deciding on a 60" or 72" for the basement and trying to decide where to put the speakers.

Wired and other sources report that digital piracy is on the rise again.  Younger people are more willing and/or able to pirate new releases and it's not always because they just don't feel like paying (https://www.wired.com/story/2021-platinum-age-piracy-streaming/).

In my anecdotal experience, my younger friends and colleagues just don't value going out like my older friends and I used to.  A strangely high number of them think of talking on the phone over texting as anathema.  Several of them can't or won't order a pizza unless they can do it online.  I'm not trying to sound old or somehow superior.  These are observations I make without evaluation or judgement, but the difference is definitely there. 

Yeah, watching new movies in your own home is the future.  I don't know how studios can or should react to that, but they're going to have to figure something out.

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This is actually a really, really good opening for this movie. Labor Day weekend is usually terrible for movies, because people are out enjoying "the last weekend of Summer." Shang-Chi is going to more than double the previous record for movie gross on Labor Day weekend, this during a pandemic, for a character that most of the general public has never even heard of. This is awesome! The buzz for it is extremely positive, too, from both audiences and critics, which means it should have longer legs in theaters than the average blockbuster. It is exceeding expectations in every way- nothing negative about any of this.

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On 9/5/2021 at 4:28 PM, The Mad Bubbler said:

This is actually a really, really good opening for this movie. Labor Day weekend is usually terrible for movies, because people are out enjoying "the last weekend of Summer." Shang-Chi is going to more than double the previous record for movie gross on Labor Day weekend, this during a pandemic, for a character that most of the general public has never even heard of. This is awesome! The buzz for it is extremely positive, too, from both audiences and critics, which means it should have longer legs in theaters than the average blockbuster. It is exceeding expectations in every way- nothing negative about any of this.

Yeah, nothing about this news read as negative to me, even if Widow has a bigger first three days. They've been good about playing the long game too- they've never minded a more humble opening gross to launch a franchise knowing it'll pay off later as they connect more and more.

Really good movie, so it definitley deserves success. I would've loved to see a more BP sized super success, but you can't expect to catch lightning in a bottle on the regular, and these results seem solid on their own merits.

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Full disclosure, I have not seen the movie but plan to. I have heard good things, that it is a very good movie (tho most reviews I’ve seen say the ending is disappointing).

with all that said... maybe the movie’s numbers reflect that Shang Chi is a C (generous) level Marvel character and people aren’t flocking to theartres because of that. It’s easy to blame Disney’s strategy or Covid but sometimes a film is just a film. And a minor character isn’t going to pull in the casual fan. Just playing a Devils advocate here so don’t take this as bashing.

Again, I plan on seeing this with the fam like we do every MCU film. But I honestly didn’t even realize it opened this weekend and I’ve seen every MCU film opening weekend. The hype just isn’t there for this or a Eternals for me. Neither seem like must see films and for Eternals especially I may wait for the blu ray release. And all this is from a massive MCU fan. Fans with a passing interest may skip both altogether. Yes this is MY personal feelings and I don’t speak for anyone but myself.

The numbers still look good for a movie premiere, just that we’ve gotten used to the high water marks previous MCU had set.

So MAYBE it’s not any other factor other than people just don’t care.

Maybe word of mouth will jump the numbers. As I’ve said, I’m a huge MCU fan, love even the lowest rated so I really want these films to succeed. For me it’s not just seeing childhood heroes on the silver screen, MCU films are events for my family. Something we all make time for. But if this and Eternals end up as the movies that earn the lowest since Hulk or whichever holds that distinction, can we really say were shocked? 

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The average movie-goer who isn't (or wasn't) steeped in comics knowledge doesn't know the difference between popular characters and not. Most people didn't know who Iron Man and Thor were before their movies. They didn't know that the Guardians of the Galaxy were more obscure comics than the Avengers. Those characters weren't A-list until after the movies shot them into the stratosphere of popular awareness. And most people who see The Eternals will have no idea that people who have been reading comics for four decades can't tell you a single interesting fact about Phastos. By now, the mainstream audience has bought into the brand. Shang-Who? Whatever, it's Marvel, right? Yeah, I'm in.

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On 9/5/2021 at 11:02 AM, GreenwithNV said:

 

The truth is that there’s still a large contingent of the population which is uncomfortable cramming themselves into theaters sprinkled with unvaccinated and non-mask wearing viewers for several hours.

Lol! If you got the jab, you're "immune" to the China virus. Why would you be worried about the one who choose not to get the jab or walk around wearing face diapers? Don't you trust the "science"? Also, why go to a " crammed" theater? Since I hate dealing with crowds, noisy brats, I always go on Sundays and watch the 11am matinee, only a handful of people at that time.

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On 9/5/2021 at 10:26 PM, RyanDaly said:

The average movie-goer who isn't (or wasn't) steeped in comics knowledge doesn't know the difference between popular characters and not. Most people didn't know who Iron Man and Thor were before their movies. They didn't know that the Guardians of the Galaxy were more obscure comics than the Avengers. Those characters weren't A-list until after the movies shot them into the stratosphere of popular awareness. And most people who see The Eternals will have no idea that people who have been reading comics for four decades can't tell you a single interesting fact about Phastos. By now, the mainstream audience has bought into the brand. Shang-Who? Whatever, it's Marvel, right? Yeah, I'm in.

Normally I’d agree., MCU= must see. Brand appeal and all that.they have earned that.

oddly, since “Marvel” is in title and ads, but I’ve had two separate conversations with friends who exclaimed: it’s a Marvel Movie?!!

Apparently, some people aren’t connecting the dots. 

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On 9/5/2021 at 8:31 PM, Gigantor said:

Lol! If you got the jab, you're "immune" to the China virus. Why would you be worried about the one who choose not to get the jab or walk around wearing face diapers? Don't you trust the "science"? Also, why go to a " crammed" theater? Since I hate dealing with crowds, noisy brats, I always go on Sundays and watch the 11am matinee, only a handful of people at that time.

I can't speak for everyone but I personally am more worried about OTHER people I might expose to the virus, whether I am vaccinated or not.  Isn't that crazy?  Actually being accountable for the health of others around me instead of just myself?  Your thought methodology has largely contributed to how we got where we are in the first place.  And why we're now going backwards; everyone is so caught up in "ME, ME ME, MY RIGHTS, MY BODY, MEEEEE!" that they've clearly stopped thinking about anyone else.  

And, because I know I'm going to have to dumb this down, a realistic scenario is this:  

1) Vaccinated person is exposed to the virus.

2) The same vaccinated person is then exposed to someone who thinks there are nano machines or something in the vaccine and so has decided to abstain.  Maybe this happened in a crowded movie theatre.  

3) Non-vaccinated person then gets sick.  Rinse and repeat.  

It really is that simple.  I'm really disappointed in how this country has politicized something that should just be basic common sense and human decency.  If wearing a "face diaper" might save someone's life (even if there's just a chance it will), I will gladly wear it.  Only truly selfish people would put their "rights" above the health of everyone around them.  

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On 9/6/2021 at 10:04 AM, Virtualzach said:

I can't speak for everyone but I personally am more worried about OTHER people I might expose to the virus, whether I am vaccinated or not.  Isn't that crazy?  Actually being accountable for the health of others around me instead of just myself?  Your thought methodology has largely contributed to how we got where we are in the first place.  And why we're now going backwards; everyone is so caught up in "ME, ME ME, MY RIGHTS, MY BODY, MEEEEE!" that they've clearly stopped thinking about anyone else.  

And, because I know I'm going to have to dumb this down, a realistic scenario is this:  

1) Vaccinated person is exposed to the virus.

2) The same vaccinated person is then exposed to someone who thinks there are nano machines or something in the vaccine and so has decided to abstain.  Maybe this happened in a crowded movie theatre.  

3) Non-vaccinated person then gets sick.  Rinse and repeat.  

It really is that simple.  I'm really disappointed in how this country has politicized something that should just be basic common sense and human decency.  If wearing a "face diaper" might save someone's life (even if there's just a chance it will), I will gladly wear it.  Only truly selfish people would put their "rights" above the health of everyone around them.  

Well said, Zach

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It did set a record for labor day weekend opening, i think, so i'm guessing disney is reasonably happy with the box office, even if it didn't beat black widow - it probably won't have quite as steep a drop off the 2nd weekend, especially with good word of mouth/critical reception.

I'll probably try and catch it on a weekday sometime this week, so hopefully it won't be too crowded.

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Something else to consider as far as the film's final box office haul, right now it doesn't have a release date scheduled for China and it's unknown whether it'll play there at all. China is almost always the second largest market after the United States, often taking in 20-25% of the total worldwide gross. 

Getting back to @JayC's point, I think Disney is taking a mulligan this year. They're experimenting with the release strategies, between same-day theatrical and streaming, to delayed streaming, and maybe we'll see some other option next year. I think they see the writing on the wall that the days where every one of their movies makes a billion dollars is over. They're keeping a very close eye on Spider-Man: No Way Home to see if that, which will be a major event movie akin to an Avengers installment, can reach the same heights. Meanwhile, I think Disney would love to cut movie theaters out of the process entirely if they knew they could make the same money on their streaming platform. Distribution fees and movie theater deals cut into their overall profit margin and they would love to keep all of that for themselves.

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On 9/5/2021 at 9:26 PM, RyanDaly said:

The average movie-goer who isn't (or wasn't) steeped in comics knowledge doesn't know the difference between popular characters and not. Most people didn't know who Iron Man and Thor were before their movies. They didn't know that the Guardians of the Galaxy were more obscure comics than the Avengers. Those characters weren't A-list until after the movies shot them into the stratosphere of popular awareness. And most people who see The Eternals will have no idea that people who have been reading comics for four decades can't tell you a single interesting fact about Phastos. By now, the mainstream audience has bought into the brand. Shang-Who? Whatever, it's Marvel, right? Yeah, I'm in.

Excellent point. Once you get pasted Superman, Batman,  Spider-Man, Hulk most people have no idea who any of the other superhero characters are. My friends and family go in completely ignorant which probably lends itself to them enjoying these movies more than me because I’m constantly thinking about things like why is that character here or why did they say that or why does whoever look so different. The vast majority of the people I know couldn’t name you one member of the X-men even. They would probably recognize the term and just say it’s a comic or movie.

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On 9/6/2021 at 2:04 AM, Virtualzach said:

I can't speak for everyone but I personally am more worried about OTHER people I might expose to the virus, whether I am vaccinated or not.  Isn't that crazy?  Actually being accountable for the health of others around me instead of just myself?  Your thought methodology has largely contributed to how we got where we are in the first place.  And why we're now going backwards; everyone is so caught up in "ME, ME ME, MY RIGHTS, MY BODY, MEEEEE!" that they've clearly stopped thinking about anyone else.  

And, because I know I'm going to have to dumb this down, a realistic scenario is this:  

1) Vaccinated person is exposed to the virus.

2) The same vaccinated person is then exposed to someone who thinks there are nano machines or something in the vaccine and so has decided to abstain.  Maybe this happened in a crowded movie theatre.  

3) Non-vaccinated person then gets sick.  Rinse and repeat.  

It really is that simple.  I'm really disappointed in how this country has politicized something that should just be basic common sense and human decency.  If wearing a "face diaper" might save someone's life (even if there's just a chance it will), I will gladly wear it.  Only truly selfish people would put their "rights" above the health of everyone around them.  

Sadly I agree with you here with the exception of one point. I’m assuming when you say this country you mean the USA but this is same issue is happening around friends I have in Canada and Italy. And it’s happening from Japan to Australia to Brazil and most every place in between and it’s not a new issue been happening since ancient times. 

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