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Marvel Studios | Disney

Marvel’s Shang-Chi Shatters Box Office Records Over Labor Day Weekend

Shang-Chi's first outing in the MCU has proven to be a smash hit with critics and audiences alike, crushing Labor Day weekend box office records and making cinematic history.
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Labor Day weekend is historically unkind to the box office. However, Marvel saw fit to change that with the unusual timing of the theatrical release for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The latest entry in the biggest film franchise in the world was also the first to star an Asian actor and feature a predominantly Asian cast.

Shang-Chi obliterated the previous Labor Day weekend box office record, which was held by the 2007 film Halloween, a film that took in $30.6 million over its opening weekend nearly 15 years ago. Shang-Chi, by comparison, raked in an eye-opening $75.5 million domestically, cementing itself as a major winner for Marvel.

A Lot Was Riding on This Movie

Some analysts thought the film might flop. The combination of a rough outlook for films released before Labor Day, concerns about going out in public, and the film’s perceived “niche” status as a martial arts movie all coalesced into some analysts projecting that the film could be Marvel’s first major box office failure.

In fact, Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, indicated that Shang-Chi would be a bellwether for the company’s plans regarding other films coming up in the back half of the year. Marvel has two more movies, Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home slated for release before the end of the year, and ticket sales from Shang-Chi are likely going to be used as an argument to keep them on the calendar in their current release spots instead of sliding back into 2022.

Why Did ‘Shang-Chi’ Succeed?

So, what made Shang-Chi such a massive success? Firstly, it’s a watershed moment for inclusion. The predominantly Asian cast has received praise from critics and has drawn positive comparisons to another diverse superhero film, 2018’s Black Panther.

Star Simu Liu has posted at length about what the role means to him on his social media accounts, noting that he finds it personally moving that so many young Asian fans will be looking up to his portrayal of the heroic Shang-Chi.

Shang Chi and his best friend, Katy
Marvel Studios | Disney

Liu has noted that he empathizes with Shang-Chi’s “feeling of being constantly in between worlds and struggling to figure out what path he wants to take. He’s at a point in his life where I’ve definitely been at, this point of uncertainty, maybe a little directionless.”

Critics and Audiences Agree

It certainly helps that critics and audiences alike absolutely adore the movie. Buoyed by stellar action sequences, great performances, and numerous fun Marvel twists in the later acts, Shang-Chi is a great indicator of the direction Marvel is moving for its Phase 4 films.

After the build-up and success of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, some fans began to wonder where Marvel could go next. What do you do after the Avengers stop Thanos from wiping out all life in the universe? As Marvel has now shown, there are still epic stories to tell in the sweeping cinematic universe.

With the resounding success of Shang-Chi, it’s quite likely that the film’s title character will be entering the pantheon of Marvel heroes and fighting alongside the Avengers in future team-ups. And I, for one, can’t wait to see his blend of martial arts action and relatable humor spread to the rest of the MCU.