This past weekend, Disney released Marvel Studios ‘Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings’ exclusively in theatres around the world, and according to the latest box office results, it’s been a huge hit. Unlike other many theatrical releases from Disney this year, the film wasn’t available on Disney+ Premier Access, since Disney wanted to run an experiment with ‘Shang-Chi’ and ‘Free guy’, with 45-day exclusivity at cinemas, before they can be released on digital platforms including Disney+.

The new Marvel film, broke a new Labor Day box office record, bringing in $83.5 million for its four-day domestic (US) release ($71.4 Million for a usual weekend). With the film estimated to pull in $139.7 million at the box office worldwide. ‘Shang-Chi’ has had the second-biggest opening weekend during the pandemic, just behind ‘Black Widow’ and just ahead of ‘Fast And The Furious 9’.

Early predictions for the film’s box office results had been much lower, as it was thought that with ‘Shang-Chi’ being a new character to casual fans and with the Delta variant causing many consumers to stay away. But Marvel fans came out in record numbers for the new film, which might impact how big the drop off is in the second and third weekends, but with the movie only being available in theatres, it’s not expected to have such as big a drop as ‘Black Widow’ had.

The success of ‘Shang-Chi’ at the box office is going to have a major impact on not just Disney’s, but most of the other film studios, as had the film failed to draw an audience, we could have seen some more drastic shifts to the cinema release schedule and if more films like Marvel’s ‘Eternals’ would be released on Disney+ Premier Access at the same time as they arrive in cinemas.

When Disney released ‘Black Widow’ back in July, on its opening weekend, it pulled in $80 million in the US box office, $78 million internationally and a further $60 million on Disney+ Premier Access. Resulting in a $215 Million total global box office for its opening weekend.

Just looking at the numbers for the two Marvel films, ‘Black Widow’ made around $10 million more on its opening weekend, which was expected, since ‘Black Widow’ is a more established character and Scarlet Johansson is a more well-known actor. However, with no Disney+ Premier Access release, ‘Shang-Chi’s’ overall box office numbers on paper are instantly $60 million less. Showing that Disney has left money on the table on the opening weekend by not offering a digital option. But it’s going to be how well the film pulls in audiences on the second and third weekend, which is where the real test comes in. ‘Free Guy’ has shown that with good word of mouth and being exclusive to theatres, it’s been able to continue to pull in more money than most releases that have also had a digital simultaneous release.

There are many caveats with this. With ‘Shang-Chi’ not being available on digital platforms, it has made piracy much harder since the availability of a high-quality original copy is harder to obtain.

Compared to other Marvel film releases outside of the pandemic, it has taken more money than ‘Thor’, ‘Ant-Man’, ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and ‘The Incredible Hulk’. Showing that ‘Shang-Chi’ has achieved a great debut, as, without the pandemic, it would have no doubt pulled in a bigger box office number.

We’ve been asking our readers on social media about ‘Shang Chi’, and while a lot of Marvel fans (including myself) headed off to the theatre to watch the film, there was a lot of people who just didn’t feel comfortable going to the cinema, so will be waiting until the film is available, either on Disney+ or another digital platform after the 45 days, exclusive contract has expired.

When discussing the release of ‘Shang-Chi’ last month, Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek said: “We think [Shang-Chi] is actually going to be an interesting experiment for us because it’s got only a 45-day [theatrical] window… So the prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to the service after going theatrical for 45 days will be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward on our titles.”

Should the Delta variant continue to cause more issues as we head into the winter months, Disney will no doubt be going over ‘Shang-Chi’s’ box office numbers with a fine-tooth comb, trying to make a decision.   But without a doubt, breaking the Labor Day box office record, is bound to make exclusive short term theatrical releases more appealing.

‘Shang-Chi’ has been a huge success, but was it big enough to stop Disney+ Premier Access? What do you think?

Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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  1. JT September 7, 2021

    The only theaters I will be going to for films not streaming are drive in theaters. Sorry winter films.