For the fourth weekend in a row, the box office has a true reason to celebrate. First Free Guy debuted with a stronger than expected opening weekend and continued to show staying power in its second and third weekend with stellar holds. Then there was last weekend’s Candyman which exceeded its box office tracking with a number one finish and a $22 million debut. Now Marvel jumps into the summer box office once again after already having a pandemic-best opening of $80.3 million for Black Widow back in July. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opened this weekend and heading into the Laboy Day weekend frame, the film was tracking in the $45-55 million range. Thanks to great reviews, positive word of mouth, and, most importantly, an exclusively theatrical release, Shang-Chi shattered its tracking and is on its way to a stellar Laboy Day weekend.

Shang-Chi grossed an estimated $71.4 million over three days while industry estimates expect an $89.2 million gross when Labor Day is factored in (we will update that figure as the final numbers come in). The three-day gross marks the second-best three-day opening of the pandemic, topping the $70 million start for Fast 9 and only trailing the $80.3 million debut for Black Widow. Why did Shang-Chi overperform? There are a few factors at play here and its opening weekend should give other studios some confidence releasing their films exclusively to theaters and skipping a simultaneous streaming debut.

Shang-Chi is respecting the 45-day theatrical window and won’t even be on Disney+ until after it is released on PVOD. Industry experts have stressed that the films that have performed the best over the summer have been the movies that have respected this window. If going to the movie theater is the only option and the film is deemed worthy enough, people will get off the couch and see a movie on the big screen. According to ComScore, 63% of those buying tickets for Shang-Chi bought their tickets the day off while 16% did it the day before. Other stats show 14% bought tickets for the film last week and 7% of them did it more than a week ago. The day of stat is important because buzz on the film grew steadily leading to its opening day and that buzz hit a fever pitch once people started seeing the film in Thursday night previews. It became clear this was a must-see film on the big screen.

The global take for Shang-Chi is at an estimated $127.6 million which also exceeds tracking as that called for a $90 million worldwide debut. Also of note, Shang-Chi officially blew by the previous held Laboy Day weekend record which has had Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake holding that crown after its $30.6 million start. With a glowing “A” CinemaScore from opening night audiences and pretty much having the month of September it itself, Shang-Chi should prove to be a solid box office winner.

Candyman falls to second with a gross of $10.55 million. The drop was a pretty standard for horror fall of 52% but it should get a decent boost on Monday when Labor Day is factored in. This is going to be a moderate win for Universal Pictures as the “spiritual sequel” holds a budget of $25 million and has cleared $41.9 million to date. Globally, Candyman has scared up $50 million worldwide.

In third place, we find Free Guy which still sees a solid hold despite the arrival of Shang-Chi. The Ryan Reynolds-led film grossed $8.7 million over the weekend which is a drop of only 34%. The top three films at the weekend box office are all respecting the 45-day theatrical window and their success adds more credence to the fact that this is the best release strategy. With the estimated four-day figure factored in, Free Guy has grossed $91.8 million at the domestic box office. Free Guy also continues to perform well internationally with a gross of $25.3 million from 47 markets and a global total of $239.2 million to date.

Paw Patrol settles in fourth place with $4 million, dropping 40% from the previous weekend. The film has grossed $31.5 million to date which isn’t a bad figure considering the film is also available to stream on Paramount+. Family films are served better by this release strategy because, along with the older demographic, parents are still a bit on the fence about taking their kids to the movies.

Rounding out the top five is Jungle Cruise which grossed $3.95 million. Jungle Cruise has seen some decent holds the last few weekends and that continued during this frame with a drop of only 21%. Despite the film also being available to stream via the Disney+ Premier Access Program, Jungle Cruise has performed solidly in theaters. I mostly credit the promotional muscle of Dwayne Johnson who continues to prop up the film even though it’s in its sixth week of release. Domestically, Jungle Cruise has pulled in $106.9 million to date and since a sequel has already been officially greenlit, I’d say Disney is happy with the results, especially since its global take was $189.4 million heading into the weekend.

In sixth place, we find Don’t Breathe 2 which grossed $2.2 million. The film saw a slim drop of 23% this weekend which is interesting because the movie became available on PVOD on Friday. Don’t Breathe 2 won’t see the amount of success of its predecessor but given its $15 million budget and $28.5 million domestic total to date, Sony Pictures will see a profit.

Respect lands in seventh place with a gross of $1.26 million, falling 44% weekend-to-weekend. I still think a winter release closer to Oscar season would’ve benefitted this film more and since the target demo is still reluctant to head to their local movie theater due to the pandemic, Respect was fighting a pretty big uphill battle. To date, Respect has grossed $22.2. million as the film became available on PVOD on Friday. I think Respect will find a much bigger audience now that the film can be viewed at home.

In eighth place, we have The Suicide Squad which grossed $905,000. The film dropped 55% this weekend and this is a movie that really hasn’t seen a great hold weekend-to-weekend. Blame HBO Max (it’s still on the platform for a few more days) or blame it on the fact that, despite solid reviews, the film really only appeals to a niche audience. A lot of money has been left on the table here and I seriously doubt its HBO Max numbers are enough to help the bleeding. To date, The Suicide Squad has grossed $54.6 million at the domestic box office. The film has made $162.5 million globally and has four more markets to open in but its global take is still well below its reported $185 million budget.

Black Widow still clings to the top ten in ninth place with a gross of $748,000. The film dropped a slim 5% and this is largely due to the fact that the film is also doubled booked at drive-ins showing Shang-Chi. To date, Black Widow has pulled in $182.6 million domestically and it’s still the highest-grossing movie of the year at the domestic box office.

Rounding out the top ten is The Night House, which grossed $552,000. To date, the art-house horror film has pulled in $6.4 million and it’s probably eagerly awaiting its home release because more eyes will likely discover the film when it’s available for home viewing.

What are YOUR thoughts on this weekend’s box office results?

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