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Photo: Disney

Disney's newest Marvel hit, "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," obliterated Labor Day weekend box office records, bringing in a whopping $75.5 million over three days. It's projected to bring in $90 million for the full four-day weekend, according to Comscore.

Why it matters: Its three-day opening was the second-highest so far during the pandemic after Disney's other Marvel hit, "Black Widow," proving the power of the Marvel franchise to lure people to theaters.

  • The previous Labor Day record-holder was MGM's horror film "Halloween," which earned just over $30 million during the long weekend in 2007.

Be smart: "Shang-Chi" was expected to do well in part because it didn't have much competition over the weekend and because of the way it was released.

  • It was the first Marvel film Disney made available exclusively in theaters since the pandemic began.
  • The film has so far brought in over $127 million in total global box office sales, according to Comscore.

Asian turnout helped to fuel ticket sales for Hollywood’s first big-budget, Asian-led superhero film. According to Bloomberg, citing figures from Disney, Asian filmgoers "represented about 17% of theater attendees over the weekend, more than double the usual turnout for a Marvel film."

  • Advocates for greater and more accurate Asian representation will likely view these numbers as an indication that the story of Shang-Chi transcended its ethnic origins. It has a 98% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, a movie review website.
  • Despite Asian people being the world’s majority and the fastest-growing group of racial or ethnic people in the U.S., they are among the least represented in media.
  • When they are, their roles “are often minimized and imprisoned by Hollywood’s cliches,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas wrote on Twitter. “This is why Shang-Chi matters.”

The big picture: The film's success gives the movie theater industry hope heading into the fall that more studios will continue to keep their hits on the release schedule, even as the Delta variant continues to impact consumer confidence broadly.

  • Paramount said last week that it would push the premiere of "Top Gun: Maverick" from November to May 2022 and would postpone the release of "Mission: Impossible 7" from May to September 2022.
  • Overall, the box office is pacing far behind 2019 totals and likely won't be able to recover meaningfully until 2022, analysts tell Axios.

Go deeper: Marvel's "Shang-Chi" strikes at unique moment

Go deeper

Georgia film and television union threatens strike

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer. Photo: David Livingston/GC Images

Roughly 17,000 set designers, make-up artists and other behind-the-scenes film and TV production workers who helped make Georgia an East Coast rival to Hollywood might walk off the set if their national union and the producers' guild don't negotiate a new contract.

  • After more than 98% of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees members voted over the weekend to give their president, Matthew Loeb, the OK to call a strike, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers agreed to return to the table.

Why it matters: Georgia's generous tax credit, talent pool and range of shooting locations attracted more than 350 film and TV productions during the previous fiscal year, pumping an estimated $4 billion into the state's economy.

  • Film productions hire local caterers, empty shelves in hardware stores and rent out local businesses for shoots. A strike — the first industry-wide strike in the union's 123-year history, Variety reports — could press pause on roughly 50 active productions like "The Walking Dead," "Ozark" and sequels to "Black Panther" and "Wedding Crashers."
  • The economic hit would ripple throughout Georgia as the entertainment industry and local governments rebuild after a pandemic lull.

Context: Worker union officials want wage bumps for the lowest-paid union members, longer breaks and streaming giants like Hulu and Netflix to pay crews on par with traditional Hollywood studios.

  • Neither side wants a strike, and even if Loeb calls one, it might not start immediately. But the overwhelming vote, and the unified voice of local chapters like Georgia's Local 479, are strong leverage.

What they're saying: Directors Guild of America members including Barry Jenkins, Ava Duvernay and Ron Howard said they supported IATSE, as did actors like Jeffrey Wright and Alyssa Milano, Deadline reports.

What's next: Labor has the leverage. If the national unions don't finalize a deal, Local 479 and others would almost assuredly strike in solidarity.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Axios AM Deep Dive: America’s murder surge

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats target billionaires

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

After failing to get a deal on other planned tax increases, key Senate Democrats are pivoting to a billionaires' income tax to pay for President Biden's social spending.

The big picture: No advanced economy has attempted anything similar on such a scale.