According to Walt Disney Co., the first Marvel movie featuring an Asian actor in the lead earned $53 million worldwide box office revenue as of Friday.
Disney reported that “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which earned $29.3million in domestic box office sales, and $23.4 million internationally, made $29.3 million. It is now on track to earn at least $60million in domestic box office sales over the weekend and in the $75 million $85 million range for international markets, including the Labor Day holiday.
The release of the movie came at a difficult time for theaters. Cinemas are struggling to match last year’s box-office numbers due to the recent coronavirus delta strain surge. Just this week, Paramount Pictures pushed the release date for its widely anticipated “Top Gun” sequel into next year. These films are usually produced at more than $150 million and then distributed and marketed for much higher amounts.
The film received support from the Asian American community.
At the AMC theater in San Francisco’s Japantown, the Edward M. Lee Asian Pacific Democratic Club held a screening of the “Shang-Chi” on Friday.
The club wants to show Hollywood that films with Asian casts are good investments. Send that message now when people are skittish about going to theaters, and attendance might be weak for the first-ever Marvel picture featuring an Asian actor as the lead.
Jay Cheng, a member of the club’s board, stated, “We know we must vote with our wallets.”
Disney is betting big on the big screen, however. Many of the most anticipated films by Disney s simultaneously released this year in theaters and on Disney+ streaming for a $30 fee. Some went straight to streaming. “Shang-Chi,” will only be shown in theaters for 45 consecutive days.
The company has put its marketing machine behind it, reaching out to Asian-American charities, influencers, and professional groups. It also held a press conference for Asian-American journalists and signed a sponsorship agreement with sparkling water company Sanzo. This sponsor put the characters of “Shang-Chi” on their popular Lychee flavor. “Run It” was made the official anthem for college soccer on ESPN.
These efforts could help build momentum for Asian-led Hollywood films. The trend started with “Crazy Rich Asians” three years ago and continued last year with South Korea’s film “Parasite” winning best picture at Oscars.
Coming at a time when Asian hate crimes are on the rise lends a particular significance, according to Elaine Chang, an associate professor of English and theater studies at the Canada’s University of Guelph.
Simu Liu stars in “Shang-Chi,” a Canadian sitcom that featured him as the son of a Chinese crime boss who is being dragged back into his father’s schemes. Tony Leung, a Hong Kong martial arts superstar, plays his father. As his sidekick, Awkwafina (Asian-American actress) is part of the cast. Destin Daniel Cretton directed the film, a Hawaiian native of Japanese heritage.
According to the Motion Picture Association trade group, about 7% of moviegoers were Asian Americans in 2019. is slightly more than the general population. According to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, only 3% of top-grossing movies released between 2007 and 2019 featured an Asian actor as a lead or co-lead.
The film’s reviews have received strong reviews, with 91% approval from Rotten Tomatoes. It is expected to generate $52 million domestically over the three-day Labor Day weekend, researcher Boxoffice Pro predicted ahead of the film’s release.
“Early audience reaction has been overwhelmingly positive to ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,’ Disney stated Saturday in a statement. He also added that the “opening day results” show “very big grosses.”
Although this could be a new record for a holiday (which is usually a slow one for the industry), it will likely pale compared to other pre-pandemic films. In its 2018 debut, “Black Panther,” the first Marvel movie to feature a majority Black cast, earned $202 million. The first female-led Marvel film, “Captain Marvel,” earned $153 million a year later.
Asia is home to many of the most difficult markets to predict, as some countries have closed down theaters again due to the pandemic.
China has theaters open. However, many big Hollywood movies have yet to release in China. According to Stanley Rosen, a professor at USC, “Shang-Chi” is one of those films.
The company’s streaming and theater release strategy has already caused controversy in the US. “Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson sued the company in July, saying the decision to put her film online at the same time as theaters cost her the box office bonuses she would have earned with a theater-only debut. Scarlett Johansson’s lead actor reacted to Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek’s remarks about the “interesting experiment” of a 45-day theatrical release for “Shang-Chi.”
Jonathan Schwartz, the producer of “Shang-Chi,” walked the red carpet decorated with props from the movie and answered questions from the media. He said, “I believe it’s going to be a lot of representation, hopefully inspiring Asian American audience members.” “I think it’s just going to be a great big Marvel film, adding a new fun hero into the mix.