Marvel Asian American Superhero Movie Heading Toward $90M Record-Breaking Labor Day Weekend

Sunday AM: Who says that people don’t go to the movies over Labor Day weekend?

And who says American audiences are hesitant about going to the movies?

More from Deadline

Hollywood, it’s time to re-think your game plan about the theatrical release schedule. It doesn’t look like Vax cards policing at any movie theaters prevented anyone from going to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, as Disney continued to exercise a theatrical window post-Free Guy, taking their latest Marvel Cinematic Universe title to the second best-3 day of the pandemic with $71.4M, behind Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow ($80.3M) and ahead of F9‘s $70M. The 4-day per industry estimate is expected to be $89.2M. Disney is reporting $83.5M for the four-days as of this morning.

If Disney wants to launch another Marvel movie over Labor Day weekend going forward (with a theatrical window!), no one is going to have a problem with that.

<img class=”size-dl-article-body wp-image-1234781444″ src=”; alt=” – Credit: Disney/Marvel” width=”296″ height=”166″ srcset=” 1416w,,84 150w,,169 300w,,576 1024w,,70 125w,,338 600w,,370 660w,,720 1280w,,563 1000w,,511 910w,,383 681w,,253 450w,,140 250w,,212 380w,,166 296w,,139 248w,,112 200w,,152 270w,,34 60w,,198 352w,,62 110w,,160 285w,,180 320w,,360 640w,,450 800w” sizes=”(max-width: 296px) 100vw, 296px” />Disney/Marvel

Overall estimated four-day weekend for all movies stands at $135.2M, which is 12% ahead of the 4-day Labor Day weekend of 2019 of $120.7M. Many sources have told me that moviegoing won’t be considered normal until we’re at or ahead of 2019 weekend box office levels. Well, here’s well-above normal. Oh, and by the way, MGM/United Artists Releasing’s No Time to Die is staying put on Oct. 8; there was never, ever an option for the 007 pic to move again on the theatrical release calendar.

Imax screens in U.S. and Canada drove $8M of Shang-Chi‘s weekend, or 10% of it’s overall 3-day, with a per screen of $20K, hands down an Imax domestic weekend Labor Day record.

“Shattering Labor Day box office records with an origin story new to many fans, Shang-Chi delivers an emphatic statement: people really want to get back to the movies,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax, in a statement. “It’s clear that great filmmaking plus an exclusive theatrical release is a winning formula at the box office, and this groundbreaking film has successfully launched an exciting new cinematic journey for Marvel and a strong fall blockbuster slate for the industry.”

A lot of stats to share here on Shang-Chi this morning, all according to Screen Engine/Comscore’s PostTrak:

As a testament to the pic’s buzz and how it impacted people to get up off the couch: 63% of those buying tickets to the Destin Daniel Cretton directed feature bought their tickets the day of, while 16% did it the day before, with 14% in the last week, and 7% more than a week ago. Sixty-three percent bought their tickets online, while 35% bought their movie tickets at a theater, with 2% through a Costco or Walmart package. Close to 60% saw the movie in a normal theater, while 23% chose Imax and 13% chose the premium large format experience.

Thirty-one percent of the audience were males under 25, 31% were males over 25, with females under 25 at 20% and females over 25 at 18%. Updated 18-34 turnout is 59%. Updated diversity demos are 36% Caucasian (92% grade), 22% Latino (88% grade), 18% Black (90% grade) and 18% Asian (who gave the MCU title it’s best grades at 94%). Disney exits show 61% males overall for Shang-Chi.

In regards to how people went to this blockbuster, as it’s very telling during a pandemic; it appears as though they were very comfortable: 23% of the audience went with 2 to 4 friends, 16% went with one friend, 7% came with five or more friends, families repped 20%, while 16% of those buying tickets were on a date, and 10% watched the Marvel movie alone. Per Disney polls, they report 88% general audience and 6% parents and 6% kids turning out.

The primary reason why moviegoers went to see Shang-Chi were as follows: Part of a franchise they love, that being the MCU (49%), the genre/plot (46%), came with someone who encouraged them to see it (31%), the cast as a whole (27%), heard it was ‘good’ (27%), lead actor Simu Liu (23%), Awkwafina (14%), and critics’ reviews (14%).

Citing the most influential form of marketing that prodded them to see Shang-Chi, those polled answered the YouTube trailer (23%), the online trailer (13%), the in-theater trailer (11%), word of mouth from friends/family (9%), Instagram trailers/clips (9%), TV ads (8%), Twitter clips/trailers (3%), Facebook clips/trailers (3%), in theater posters-banners (3%), and billboards/outdoor ads (2%).

Before watching Shang-Chi this weekend, 40% said they watched the trailer or film clips online a month or so before, while 25% said they watched the trailer/clips this week, and 21% caught the trailer literally the day they went to the see the picture. Fourteen percent said they never watched the trailer to Shang-Chi before seeing the movie.

After watching Shang-Chi, of the moviegoers polled, 25% said they’d buy the movie on Blu-Ray or DVD, 13% said they’d buy it digitally (Amazon, iTunes, etc) while 10% said they’d rent the movie digitally, while 15% said they’d find a way to download the movie for free (BitTorrent, Limewire, etc).

How often are people going to the movies during the pandemic in the last two months? Screen Engine/Comscore learned that of those attending Shang-Chi, 5% had seen seven or more movies over that time frame, 2% had seen six movies, 5% had seen five movies, 9% had watched four movies, 22% had seen three movies, 28% had watched two movies, while 30% had watched one movie.

iSpot reports that since the start of Shang-Chi‘s campaign, Disney spent close to $11M in TV ads that generated 1.18 billion impressions. Of the top networks the studio advertised on: NBC (15%), ABC (12%), Disney Channel (6.3%), Freeform (5.5%) and ESPN (4.1%). The top shows that aired Shang-Chi spots (based on TV ad impressions) were the Tokyo Olympics (11.1%), Bachelor in Paradise (2%), America’s Got Talent (1.8%), MLB games (1.7%) and SportsCenter (1.6%).

EntTelligence estimates that 4M people saw Shang-Chi through the end of Saturday. Activity for Shang-Chi was well spread out on Saturday, with patrons showing up throughout the day, per the industry analytics firm: About 35% of the audience came out after 7PM compared to Friday when 55% of patrons came out once the evening began.

This weekend’s chart for Sept 3-6, 2021, Labor Day weekend:

1.) Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings (Dis) 4,300 theaters Fri $29.6M/Sat $23.2M/Sun $18.6M/Mon $12.1M/3-day $71.4M/4-day $83.5M/Wk 1

2.) Candyman (Uni) 3,569 theaters Fri $2.8M/Sat $3.8M/Sun $3.8M/Mon $2.88M/3-day $10.55M (-52%)/4-day: $13.4M/Total $41.9M/Wk 2

3.) Free Guy (20th/Dis) 3,885 theaters (-55) Fri $2.1M/Sat $3.2M/Sun $3.3M/Mon $2.45M/3-day $8.7M (-34%)/4-day $11.1M/Total $94.3M/Wk 4

4.) Paw Patrol (Par) 3,004 theaters (-185) Fri $970K/Sat $1.5M/Sun $1.5M/Mon $1.2M/3-day $4M (-40%)/4-day $5.215M/Total $31.5M/Wk 3 —also available on Paramount+

5.) Jungle Cruise (Dis) 3,075 (-295) theaters Fri $885K/Sat $1.55M/Sun $1.5M/Mon $1.25M/3-day $3.95M (-21%)/4-day $5.2M/Total: $106.9M/Wk 6 — available on Disney+ Premier

6.) Don’t Breathe 2 (Sony) 2176 (-527)/Fri $585K/Sat $840K/Sun $785K/Mon $510K/3-day $2.2M (-23%)/4-day $2.7M/Total $28.5M/Wk 4 — on PVOD already

7.) Respect (UAR) 2,107 (-500) theaters Fri $313K/Sat $464k/Sun $487K/Mon $366k/3-day $1.265M (-44%)/4-day $1.63M/Total $22.2M/Wk 4 – on PVOD

8.) The Suicide Squad (WB) 1,561 (-875) theaters/Fri $230K/Sat $355K/Sun $320K/Mon $210K/3-day $905K (-55%)/4-day $1.11M/Total $54.6M/Wk 5 — currently on HBO Max for a few more days

9.) Black Widow (Dis) 750 (-300) theaters Fri $185K/Sat $264K/Sun $299K/Mon $155K/3-day $748K (-5%)/4-day $903K/Total $182.6M/Wk 9 — on Disney+ Premier, but also doubled booked at drive-ins showing Shang-Chi.

10.) Night House (Sea) 1,020 (-1,220) theaters Fri $140K/Sat $195K/Sun $217K/Mon $148K/3-day $552K/4-day $700K/Total $6.4M/Wk 3

11.) Chal Mera Putt 2 (RBE) 90 (+18) theaters/Fri $113,5K/Sat $187,5K/Sun $189K/Mon $174K/3-day: $490,5K (-13%)/4-day $664,5K/Total $2.165M/Wk 2

12.) The Protege (LG) 1,451 (-1,126) theaters Fri $145K/Sat $190K/Sun $190K/Mon $135K/3-day $525K (-68%)/4-day $660K/Total $7.02M/Wk 3

Saturday AM: Disney is proving they can open a Marvel movie anywhere on the calendar, even during a pandemic, as Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings posted the third-best opening day during the pandemic with $29.6M (just behind F9‘s $29.9M), with what will feasibly be the biggest Labor Day opening weekend of all-time with $75M-$85M+ over four-days.

On a three-day measure, Shang-Chi is estimated to bring in $67.8M, which is the third-best debut during Covid times after Black Widow‘s $80.3M and F9‘s $70M.

&#x00201c;Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings&#x00201d; - Credit: Disney

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” – Credit: Disney


As star Simu Liu aptly said about the prospects about Shang-Chi at the box office in refuting Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s remarks that the latest MCU movie is “an interesting experiment” because of its 45-day theatrical window: “We are not an experiment. We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise.” Amen.

If any rival studio executives out there are slamming, “Well, Marvel movies typically open higher at the box office,” you’d best stay quiet, because you’ve never had an enormous opening at the Labor Day weekend box office quite like this.

This is a fantastic start to the fall (even though it’s the last weekend of summer), which will keep exhibition humming before the expected October blockbuster month of No Time to Die, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Dune. The overall weekend box office for all films is expected to file around $130M, +8% over 2019’s $120.8M four-day Labor Day frame stretch.

If business is so great, then why did Paramount just move Top Gun: Maverick to 2022? Well, it boils down to the international markets not being back. However, Disney is willing to grab whatever they can at this point in time, and Shang-Chi counts $23.4M from 46 markets for a $53M global gross to date in its first day. The pic was No. 1 in all key offshore markets, including posting the biggest opening day of the pandemic era in the UK.

Shang-Chi was always intended to go in 2021. At various points, Disney had the movie dated this year on July 30, then Feb. 12, then May 7, and then July 9, before gambling on Labor Day weekend.

Marvel gets its 16th ‘A’ CinemaScore here with Shang-Chi (we’re not counting A-s or A+s in there), with Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak audience exits at 5 out of 5 stars, 91% positive, and a super 78% recommend. Kids under 12 gave it 93% in the top two boxes and a 70% recommend. Shang-Chi pulled in 62% males, 51% under 25, and the moviegoing dominant quad of 18-34 at 60%. Diversity mix was 36% Caucasian, 23% Asian/other, 23% Latino and 18% Black.

The pic, as expected, played best on the coasts, especially the West, with nine out of ten theaters coming out of NY and LA. The AMC Metreon in San Francisco was the only venue to crack that top ten list. Imax, premium large format and 3D are driving 37% of ticket sales to date. Industry estimates expect a 34% decline between Friday (+Thursday previews and Saturday’s ticket sales of $19.67M. If you back out Thursday previews from Friday, then Shang-Chi‘s technical Saturday daily hold is -7%.

The campaign for Shang-Chi arguably kicked off at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, when Liu was introduced for the title role, along with Cretton directing.

Among Disney’s marketing efforts to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, as we told you, there was a partnership with Gold House for two exclusive #GoldOpen premieres, VIP events in Los Angeles and New York. The L.A. event was at the El Capitan, with a post-screening Q&A with director Destin Daniel Cretton, Liu and Meng’er Zhang, moderated by the pic’s star Awkwafina.

Gold House also created the Shang-Chi Gold Open community fund on GoFundMe. The goal was to keep fans in the loop about the film’s major theater buyout campaigns and connect them with a standalone fundraiser to raise proceeds for underserved API youth so that they can see themselves represented on the big screen during opening weekend. The organization also joined forces with the film’s talent and soundtrack artists Niki and Audrey Nuna to amplify favorite Chinese restaurants in LA, NYC and San Francisco.

Disney received vast support from CBO and Young Professional Groups through newsletter blasts, social media inclusions and Fandango giveaways, including National Association of Asian American Professionals, UniPro, Asian Cinevision, Welcome to Chinatown, Homecoming New York. The studio also teamed with IW Group, known for their work with AAPI influencers, to promote the film. Disney, of course, got out there and field screened this movie in major markets, including a special Imax fan screening on Aug. 25, with tour stops in Hawaii, Cretton’s home state, and San Francisco where a portion of the movie was filmed. Exhibition were wowed with a special screening of Shang-Chi at CinemaCon last week.

One of the promotional partners on Shang-Chi, Sanzo, is releasing a limited edition version of their most popular flavor, Lychee. Sanzo was founded and managed by Asian American Pacific Islander leaders, who also put great resources into general market and multicultural press and influencer outreach.

The studio also created and marketed a soundtrack with the support of Pan-Asian artists, and worked with Interscope and 88rising. There was a special trailer featuring DJ Snake and Rich Ross. Rich Brian’s track “Run It” was created and debuted on DJ Snake’s YouTube and across the official Shang-Chi social platforms; “Run It” was also named as the official anthem of ESPN’s college football campaign. There was a custom TV spot featuring film track “In The Dark” by Swae Lee, Jhene Aiko, and custom content was produced to celebrate the API experience and set to various tracks produced in collaboration with 88rising with Artists including Niki, Audrey Nuna, and many others.

Advance tickets went on sale on Aug. 16; besting those of F9 heading into opening weekend. Disney eventized this movie across their social platforms, Marvel, and supporting partners, including Twitter emoji launch, premium large format poster debuts and circuit exclusives, and a Fandango clip debut and director interview.

One Disney synergy included Shang-Chi and Death Dealer characters at the new Avengers Campus during opening week. There was also a Disney Springs takeover. Ad spots ran during MLB/NBA/college Football and Bachelor in Paradise, Celebrity Family Feud, The Hustler, Holey Moley, ESPN SportsCenter, When Nature Calls With Helen Mirren; there was also Freeform and Hulu custom content.

Promo partners in addition to Sanzo included Microsoft, which had a 360 campaign across business units with Xbox as the anchor delivering custom consoles and an AR activation through LA Live and Times Square billboard placements. BMW was the global car sponsor appearing at the U.S., European, premieres with a Munich stunt around the International Motor Show in Germany and an exhibit at the Grove in Los Angeles. International sponsors included Visa/Brazil, Virgin Plus/Canad, TIM/Italy, Mikron/Russia, and BGF/Korea.

<img class=”size-dl-article-body wp-image-1234823824″ src=”; alt=” – Credit: Universal” width=”296″ height=”166″ srcset=”,70 125w,,338 600w,,370 660w,,720 1280w,,563 1000w,,511 910w,,383 681w,,253 450w,,140 250w,,212 380w,,166 296w,,139 248w,,112 200w,,152 270w” sizes=”(max-width: 296px) 100vw, 296px” />Universal

Outside of Shang-Chi at the B.O., there’s the second weekend of Universal/MGM’s Candyman which did $2.8M yesterday, -69% for what is looking to be a 3-day of $10.4M (-53%) and a 4-day of $13.3M for a running total through 11 days of $41.8M. Excellent.

Top 5 for this weekend:

1.) Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings (Dis) 4,300 theaters Fri $29.6M/3-day $67.8M/4-day $75M-$85M/Wk 1

2.) Candyman (Uni) 3,569 theaters Fri $2.8M/3-day $10.4M/4-day: $13.3M/Total $41.7M/Wk 2

3.) Free Guy (20th/Dis) 3,885 theaters (-55) Fri $2.1M/3-day $8.9M (-32%)/4-day $11.4M/Total $94.5M/Wk 4

4.) Paw Patrol (Par) 3,004 theaters (-185) Fri $960K/3-day $4.1M (-38%)/4-day $5.38M/Total $31.7M/Wk 3

5.) Jungle Cruise (Dis) 3,075 (-295) theaters Fri $885K/3-day $3.7M (-26%)/4-day $5M/Total: $106.7M/Wk 6

UPDATED, Friday midday: It was always going to be a record-setting Labor Day weekend, but exactly how high will Shang-Chi fly?

At this early point in time we can tell you that Disney/Marvel’s Destin Daniel Cretton-directed movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is looking to do $25 million today, including last night’s $8.8M in previews. That would be the third-highest opening day during the Covid era after Black Widow‘s $39.5M and F9‘s $29.9M.

Shang-Chi‘s three-day total looks to be around $60M, with the potential to do in the mid- to high-$60M range over four days. That’s poised to be 126% higher than the previous Labor Day weekend record opener, 2017’s Halloween. It could even go much higher, but we’ll have a better idea tomorrow morning. This is according to industry estimates, not Disney.

Look, it’s still early: Even if Shang-Chi comes in over four days in the high $50M range, understand, it’s still a domestic B.O. record. Overall, even by pre-pandemic standards, that’s a phenomenal Labor Day weekend, and one of the best weekends we’ve seen this year.

Exhibitors have a lot to be thankful for here as Disney has Shang-Chi on a 45-day theatrical day window. Early PostTrak audience exits show 5 stars for the first Asian-American Marvel superhero movie, with a 99% fresh audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

&#x00201c;Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings&#x00201d; - Credit: Disney

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” – Credit: Disney


Social media analytics firm RelishMix shows chatter across Facebook and Instagram, YouTube views and Twitter reach of 387.2M, “26% above pre-Covid norms,” with video consumption on Facebook just over 45M and over 165M on YouTube with a sold platform balance and strong viral reposting rate of 28:1.

Reports RelishMix, “Chatter runs deep with debates about Stan Lee’s inspiration of Bruce Lee and the potential for Brandon Lee as a fitting character until his on-set accident — the ten rings and “The Mandarin” clan possessing other kinds of ‘relics’ and which villains he will face. Fans of the Korean boy band Got7 are sewing threads of enthusiasm looking forward to bandmates Mark Tuan (seen at the premiere in Hollywood) and Jackson Wang on the soundtrack. Jackie Chan mentions also stand out as he is worshiped as the pioneer of the genre.”

Among the social media stars are Awkwafina and her 2.1M fans, Simu Liu with 1.1M, Fala Chen with 1.5M and Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu at 691,000. In the mix are key soundtrack artists who are delivering strong engagement from their fanbases including Tuan with 19.1M fans, DJ Snake from Paris with 16.4M fans and Rich Brian at 6.7M; they are posting music clips, stills and trailers.

Awkwafina’s post of her golf-cart journey around the studio lot on the Shang-Chi Instagram handle pulled in over 101K views:

&#x002018;Spider-Man: No Way Home&#x002019; - Credit: Sony Pictures

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ – Credit: Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures

Exhibition industry analytics corp EntTelligence reports that the early audience occupancy for Shang-Chi leans 69% male, 31% female. Non-family is 78%, while family groups are 14% and teen groups 8%. Any studio that trailered on Shang-Chi last night per EntTelligence reached over 600K impressions. The highest ticket prices coming in were from Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco at $15.30, $17.30 and $16.03, respectively.

Among those pics trailering on Shang-Chi, there’s Sony’s recent Spider-Man: No Way Home appearing limitedly at Regal and CPX, with the soon-to-be-released Venom: Let There Be Carnage showing up across AMC, Cinemark and a large number of Regal theaters. Disney treated MCU fans to a new trailer for Eternals, clocking in at 2 minutes 58 seconds, as their attachment. And in an unexpected twist, Lionsgate treated audiences to Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 sci-fi classic Ghost in the Shell, which is being rereleased September 17, specially remastered for 4K, and screening in Imax. Lionsgate also before Shang-Chi showed the new trailer for Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall, to be released February 4, 2022. Universal, I hear, is targeting a 37-second trailer for Halloween Kills that encourages fans to experience the film on the big screen. The spot is currently playing at Cinemark, Marcus and National Amusements.

We’ll have more updates for you as they come.

PREVIOUSLY, Friday AM: For the pandemic, Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings posted a solid Thursday night preview gross especially before a slow Labor Day box office frame, with $8.8 million from showtimes that began at 6 p.m. On the high side, that figure is above the Thursday night start of Universal’s F9, which posted $7.1M before slotting the second-best opening day of the pandemic of $29.9M (previews repped 24% of that number) and second-best weekend of $70M.

We had been hearing that advance ticket sales were running ahead of F9 and A Quiet Place Part II, so Shang-Chi‘s Thursday makes sense.

The question is how front-loaded Thursday is in regards to the rest of the weekend; there’s a lot of hope that this movie will be a sleeper that feasibly owns the month of September. The Destin Daniel Cretton-directed Marvel Cinematic Universe title opens in 4,300 locations today. Total global launch is estimated between $90M-$100M. A domestic record Labor Day weekend opening is in store, besting the $30.6M four-day start of 2007’s Halloween.

Shang-Chi‘s Thursday is less than Black Widow‘s $13.2M, ranking second overall for previews during Covid. Now, before someone goes out defending the theatrical day-and-date model (that Scarlett Johansson movie hit Disney+ Premier on its opening day), note that it goes back to product, and Black Widow was a long-awaited Marvel movie held throughout the pandemic. Shang-Chi is deeper-universe MCU, and a new hero for the big screen. As buzz clicks, audiences will discover this film. Black Widow posted the biggest opening day during the pandemic and weekend, respectively, with $39.5M and $80.3M. Black Widow‘s Thursday night repped 33% of its opening Friday.

Separately, in a Fandango poll of 1,500 moviegoers earlier in the week, 90% were looking forward to the star-making performance of Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, 89% were excited to see the first MCU movie led by an Asian and Asian American cast, while 88% wanted to see how the film will continue Marvel’s Phase 4 storyline.

Why is Disney programming a movie over Labor Day weekend, a notoriously sluggish end to the summer box office? Essentially, they’re of the philosophy that a Marvel movie can open anywhere on the calendar. Warner Bros has mined great riches with horror films in the post Labor Day frame with It (a September record of $123.4M), It Chapter 2 ($91M) and The Nun ($53.8M). They’ll have James Wan’s Malignant next weekend in theaters and on its streaming service HBO Max; the conundrum there is that they’re keeping the lid on any spoilers for the movie in the marketing campaign.

Many in the industry will try and fault the pandemic for any shortfall, or less than standard, on Shang-Chi this weekend. But, remember, it’s Labor Day weekend, and by pre-pandemic standards Shang-Chi is a hit. Next to last year at this time with Warner Bros’ Tenet, we’re light years ahead: New York and LA weren’t open a year ago, and arguably many in the U.S. didn’t really know that cinemas had reopened wherever they were. The Christopher Nolan movie made $11.6M over four days.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.