September 5, 2021

Behind the Weekend Box Office – 9.5.2021


OPENINGS:  The limits of the pandemic-era box office, not to mention the historically lowest-grossing holiday weekend of the year, were tossed aside by the super powers of the MCU, as SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE 10 RINGS (Marvel/Disney) obliterated the previous Labor Day weekend record ($26.4M/$30.6M for the 2007 edition of Halloween) with 3 days at $71.4M, projected to reach $83.5M with Monday included.  That’s a middling set of numbers for the MCU in full, the 3-day a bit below the $75.8M for Ant-Man & the Wasp, but if Sunday holds its studio estimate, it will be the #2 opening of the pandemic, behind only the $80.4M for its franchise-mate Black Widow (although that film had additional opening revenues through premium Disney+ sales).  It’s an even more notable achievement because Shang-Chi is an origin story for a not-particularly well known character, with a mostly unfamiliar cast and minimal appearances from other MCU figures.  The entire industry will now be watching to see whether Shang-Chi has a better hold than the 68% Weekend 2 drop for Black Widow, which some attributed to the Disney+ release, and whether Disney sticks to a theatrical-only strategy for November’s Eternals.  Overseas, Shang-Chi is still waiting to see whether China will permit a release, and the film opened in only a few of the crucial Asian markets.  Nevertheless, it exceeded expectations with $56.2M in 41 territories.  Shang-Chi has the month of September virtually to itself (the next blockbuster currently scheduled to arrive is No Time To Die on October 8), and it will hope to beat Black Widow‘s $182.7M US theatrical total.

HOLDOVERS:  CANDYMAN (MGM/Universal) fell 52% to $10.6M ($13.5M with Monday) despite the cushion of a holiday Sunday, but should still reach $70M in the US.  It has $10.9M overseas.

FREE GUY (20th/Disney) continues to hold well, down 33% to $8.7M in its 4th weekend ($11.2M with Monday) as it heads to $120M in the US.  It’s also earned $147.7M overseas, $57M of that from China.

PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE (Nickelodeon/Paramount, also on Paramount+) dropped 40% to $4M in its 3rd weekend ($5.2M with Monday), and should pass $45M in the US.  It’s even stronger overseas at $50.3M.

JUNGLE CRUISE (Disney) is now available on general VOD, but that’s hardly denting its theatrical performance, down just 21% to $4M in its 6th weekend ($5.2M with Monday), on its way to $120M in the US.  The international gross is $86.9M, without a China release thus far.

DON’T BREATHE 2 (Columbia/Sony) dipped only 23% to $2.2M in Weekend 4 ($2.7M with Monday), and may reach $35M in the US, with $12.8M overseas to date.

RESPECT (MGM) is now available on premium VOD, and it fell 44% to $1.3M in its 4th weekend ($1.6M with Monday), making its way to $25M in US theaters.  It’s had a minimal overseas release to date.

NEXT WEEKEND:  As noted, Shang-Chi will have little trouble with the new arrivals, horror movie MALIGNANT (Warners, also on HBO Max) and the comedy QUEENPINS (STX). 

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."