Good news for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and cinemas in general) – Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is off to a pretty heroic start at the box office. Marvel Studios’ newest character debuted at #1 in the US with a hefty Labor Day weekend haul (a holiday that often sees a slump in sales rather than a bump), pulling in $71.4 million and an extra $56.2 million internationally in its first weekend. As for its UK haul, it earned £5.76 million from Friday to Sunday – the biggest UK opening post-Covid. Currently, estimates have it that the total box office tally so far comes to $139.7 million – not bad for a film centred on a brand new character, little-known even from the comics, with relative newcomer Simu Liu in the lead role, released amid an ongoing pandemic. The film is proving popular with those who’ve seen it, too – earning an ‘A’ Cinemascore, which could lead to strong word-of-mouth.

It’s not quite the biggest opening weekend of the Covid era – that still belongs to Black Widow, which opened to $80.3 million in July but saw a rather steep drop-off in the weeks that followed. It’s yet to be seen if Shang-Chi will decline quite so steeply – the key differentiator being that Black Widow was simultaneously released in cinemas and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Since Shang-Chi is a cinema exclusive for 45 days, the industry will be paying close attention to how it fares in comparison. Already, though, the film has ploughed well beyond its estimated opening weekend figures of $45–$50 million, with strong reviews under its belt, plenty of praise for its characters and fight sequences, and the promise of a whole new, distinct corner of the MCU. Shang-Chi is also yet to open in China – a major part of the worldwide film market, but one which hasn’t always embraced Hollywood takes on East Asian characters and themes (see last year’s live-action Mulan).

The film is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, previously behind Short Term 12 and Just Mercy, and stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, with Awkwafina as his best friend Katy, Meng’er Zhang as his sister Xialing, and Tony Leung as his warlord father Wenwu. Next up in the MCU: Chloé Zhao’s Eternals. How that one fares on the big screen? Only time will tell…

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