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411 Box Office Report: Shang-Chi Holds Well to Reign at #1 Again, Malignant Has DOA Opening

September 12, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) in Marvel Studios' SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Photo by Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Marvel ruled the roost for a second week, as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings held on quite well to win the weekend in its sophomore frame at the box office. The MCU Phase Four film brought in $35.8 million in its second weekend, a very sold 53% drop. That hold is comparable to the 51% drop of Spider-Man: Far From Home in July of 2019 and is, outside of that film, the best hold for an MCU film since Black Panther slipped just 45% in its second frame back in February of 2018. It’s an especially good hold considering how much the film overperformed last weekend, which suggests that this will not just be an especially front-loaded film.

The second-weekend take of the film instead suggests that Shang-Chi is sustaining interest based on the critical buzz and positive moviegoer word of mouth, both of which bode well for the film. The martial arts superhero movie now has $145.6 million domestically and $257.6 million worldwide already, and is currently outpacing fellow MCU films Thor: The Dark World, Ant-Man & The Wasp, Black Widow, and others. With the next few weekends largely left to itself in terms of direct competition until Venom: Let There Be Carnage on October 1st, Shang-Chi looks to be on course for at least $200 million domestically and likely more. It is a big hit for Marvel and is kicking off the forward-moving portion of the Phase Four films in earnest, even against a $150 million production budget.

Free Guy continued its impressive run at the box office, down just 35% in its fifth weekend to $5.8 million. The Ryan Reynolds video game-inspired comedy now stands at $101.8 million domestically and $276.5 million worldwide, quite the hit for 20th Century Studios (and parent company Disney) against a $100 million budget. The movie continues to hold better than expected and should be able to end its domestic run with $115 million or more.

While Disney had a strong one-two punch this weekend, Warner Bros. came up short with Malignant. The James Wan-directed horror film fell flat with $5.6 million, well below the $10 million to $12 million expected coming into the weekend. That is the fourth-lowest opening for the studios’ 2021 day-and-date release strategy in theaters and on HBO Max, scoring ahead of only Judas and the Black Messiah ($2.1 million), Those Who Wish Me Dead ($2.8 million), and The Little Things $4.8 million and is not good news for the $40 million-budgeted production’s bottom line.

A lot of people asking what went wrong with Malignant will blame the HBO Max release, but that can’t explain these low numbers when most of WB’s other such films have done well. The bigger problem comes from the film itself, which is so bonkers and twisty that the studio had a very difficult time marketing it. The trailers told the story of a serial killer with a psychic connection to Annabell Wallis’ protagonist, but that’s only scratching the surface of this film. Wan’s fusion of giallo horror, Brian DePalma sensibilities and 80s cult slasher weirdness made it something that was hard to present to mainstream audiences in the best of situations, and while the reviews were positive (a 73% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes), the C CinemaScore shows that audiences perhaps weren’t properly prepped. That made word of mouth suffer, and while the film has been a hot topic on social media it’s been very qualified praise from those who do love it.

Ultimately, this isn’t going to hurt Wan at all. This was an arthouse-style swing for him and he already has Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom in production, so he’ll be back to making the studio bank in no time. Still, this film will absolutely be a loss for the studio, even if it’s very predictably playing better overseas where it has $9.5 million for a $15.1 million worldwide first weekend. The movie should close out in the US at around $15 million or less, and Warner Bros. will have to take a write-down on it.

Candyman slipped 52% in its third weekend to $4.9 million $as what horror crowd there was this weekend found their way to Malignant. The Nia DaCosta-directed film is already in the black, with $48.1 million domestically and $59.3 million worldwide against a $25 million budget. This film is still aiming for $58 million to $60 million as a final domestic total, a very respectable number.

Jungle Cruise cant stop and won’t stop, as it kept its legs running to a drop of just 39% in its seventh weekend. The adventure film brought in $2.4 million and has now grossed $109.9 million domestically and $196.8 million worldwide, plus the amount its made on Disney+ Premier Access, making it profitable even against its $200 million budget once all the revenue streams are tallied. It should finish off at around $118 million or so domestically.

Paw Patrol: The Movie tallied up another $2.2 million in its fourth weekend, off 45% from last weekend. The animated family movie is now up to $34.6 million domestically and $70.9 million worldwide, a money maker for Paramount against a $26 million budget. The film is also driving traffic to Paramount+ for some extra studio profit. It should end its domestic run in the $40 million range.

Don’t Breathe 2 slipped 50% in its fifth weekend to $1.2 million. The horror sequel is up to $30.2 million domestically and $44.8 million worldwide. It’s already a hit against its $14 million production budget plus marketing, even if it’s falling ar short of the first film’s take, should end at around $35 million.

The Card Counter had a solid start in limited release, bringing in $1.1 million in just 580 theaters. The Oscar Isaac-starring crime thriller performed about as expected for Focus Features, bolstered by positive reviews (86% on RT). There’s no word on this one’s budget, but depending on how Focus handles the release from here it could potentially get up to the $3 million range domestically. It added $160,000 in very limited internatial release.

The faith-based docudrama Show Me The Father from Sony Affirm brought in $700,000, a muted number considering its 1,073 theaters. This film has flown well under the radar and doesn’t even have have any major reviews yet. It should vanish quickly from theaters.

Respect was down 59% in its fifth (and almost certainly final) weekend in the top ten, grossing $503,000. The Aretha Franklin biopic is now available on PVOD and its final days in theaters are coming close, where it is at $23.1 million and $23.7 million worldwide against a reported $55 million budget.

There are three new releases next weekend, but none of them should prevent Shang-Chi from holding court for a third time barring unforeseen circumstances. Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho is targeting a $10 million to $12 million start, while the Gerard Butler/Frank Grillo action-thriler Copshop is looking at a mid-single digits bow. The Eyes of Tammy Faye, starring Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield, is also in release but no word whether it will go wide or not yet.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – $35.8 million ($145.6 million total)
2. Free Guy – $5.8 million ($101.8 million total)
3. Malignant – $5.6 million ($5.6 million total)
4. Candyman – $4.9.6 million ($48.1 million total)
5. Jungle Cruise – $2.4 million ($109.9 million total)
6. Paw Patrol: The Movie – $2.2 million ($34.6 million total)
7. Don’t Breathe 2 – $1.2 million ($30.2 million total)
8. The Card Counter – $1.1 million ($1.1 million total)
9. Show Me the Father – $700,000 ($700,000 total)
10. Respect – $503,000 ($23.1 million total)