Sep 3, 2021 - Economy & Business

"Shang-Chi" faces tough conditions for opening weekend

Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh and Fala Chen on stage at the "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" UK Gala Screening at Curzon Cinema Mayfair on August 26, 2021 in London, England.
"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" cast (L-R) Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh and Fala Chen. Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Disney

The chips are stacked against Marvel’s new movie, "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," which opens this weekend.

Why it matters: The latest chapter in the MCU lands in theaters during a weakening economy due to a resurgence of COVID-19.

  • It also comes just a few days after deadly storms pummeled the Northeast, one of the most densely populated regions in the country.
  • Its fate in China, which makes up 10-20% of Marvel box-office sales, is currently unknown.

Shang-Chi is Hollywood’s first big-budget, Asian-led superhero film. Box office success during past, more typical holiday weekends would have clued Disney and Marvel Studios in on future investments.

  • Asian people are among the least represented minority groups in film and media.
  • The broader community has also become victim to near-daily, violent racist attacks since the start of the pandemic.

By the numbers: Disney, which owns Marvel, reportedly spent $150 million on the film.

  • An opening of $50 million to $60 million in the U.S. this weekend would be a solid benchmark for success, media analysts told CNN Business.
  • For context, Marvel’s reportedly $200 million “Black Widow” this year brought in $80 million its first weekend, before the Delta variant surge.

What they’re saying: "If we can show that we can actually hold our own ground opening weekend through the biggest film franchise in the world, that is going to unlock other opportunities in other major franchises, as well as independent films, for AAPIs to lead," Bing Chen, president of nonprofit Gold House, which consulted on the movie, told CNN Business.

The big picture: Representation means that this generation will have a new face to look up to and perhaps aspire to become.

  • After a screening of the film in New York City that Axios attended on Monday, Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu, who plays the title character Shang-Chi, said that growing up, he could only dream of becoming “a stunt guy that white guys beat up.”
  • “That’s as far as my mind would allow me to imagine," said Liu.

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