Shang-Chi: And the Legend of the Ten Rings dominates pandemic box office

As theater owners struggle to attract moviegoers back into theaters, Marvel has blessed theaters with the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Shang-Chi: And the Legend of the Ten Rings. Marvel’s newest film stars Simu Liu along with Awkwafina, Tony Leung Chui-Wai, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen; and is based on Marvel comics character Shang-Chi who lives a normal life in San Francisco with his best friend Katy until he’s forced to confront his past and rejoin his father Wenwu: the leader of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. He’ll have to discover who he truly is to defeat his father and legacy once and for all. 

The film had a lot riding on it as reports were coming out saying that if Shang-Chi: And the Legend of the Ten Rings underperformed Labor Day weekend, Disney and Marvel would consider delaying Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home which Sony would follow suit in delaying Venom: Let There Be Carnage. And while Shang-Chi is releasing exclusively in theaters, it will also have a 45-day window release on Disney+. September isn’t known for major blockbuster releases, but Shang-Chi’s box office success has proved otherwise.

Shang-Chi was a massive success for Disney and Marvel taking the number one spot Labor Day weekend at the box office over 20th Century’s Free Guy and Universal’s Candyman with 71.4 million dollars also setting a new Labor Day box office record over Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007) which earned 30.6 million dollars back in 2007. Universal’s remake of the classic thriller took the number two spot earning 10.5 million dollars with only a 52 percent drop off and Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy managed to slide in at the number three spot earning 8.7 million dollars with only a 33.8 percent drop off.

“I feel that Shang-Chi’s success at the box office is well deserved,” senior Justin Ortuno-Rojas said. “Four-day weekend, people, especially teens, are gonna want to go see a film during the long weekend.”

Not so surprising Shang-Chi did well in its first week, but many were skeptical on how it would perform in its second week, and to no surprise, Shang-Chi held the number one spot again earning 34.1 million dollars with only a 52.2 percent drop off.

 While Shang-Chi’s marketing was very mute, most of Shang-Chi’s success can be pin-pointed towards the representation of an all Asian cast and Shang-Chi being Marvel’s first Asian-American superhero. Having a similar effect as Black Panther did in 2018, Shang-Chi has given Asian-Americans a new hero to look up to, setting up the character’s future in Marvel’s diverse universe.

“I think with something as big as Marvel, it’s opened up the way for Asian-American representation in media and on the big screen,” senior Cal Carlos said. “I think it’s going to be a beautiful way to counteract the rise in Asian-focused xenophobia and give more proper representation to the people who need it.” 

Shang-Chi’s success has proved to Disney and Marvel to keep doing what they do best: trying new things. Disney and Marvel taking such a huge risk on an unknown character could’ve been colossal, not just for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; but also Asian-American representation on the big screen. The film’s success speaks volumes that diversity does matter and can attribute to a film’s success and widespread popularity. “Asian children finally have someone who looks just like them and can look up to, and relate to and I think that’s going to be amazing,” Carlos said.

Shang-Chi’s success has paved the way for more Asian-American representation on the big screen and ultimately saved many films from delays. Sony immediately responded to Shang-Chi’s success by pushing Venom: Let There Be Carnage up two weeks from its original release of September 15th to October 1st, and Disney and Marvel have decided that Eternals will be an exclusive theater release. Shang-Chi still holds the number one spot at the box office in its third week earning 21.7 million dollars with a total of 320 million dollars worldwide becoming the highest-grossing film at the pandemic box office.