‘Shang-Chi’ Three-peats In First With $21.7 Million; Clint Eastwood’s ‘Cry Macho’ Disappoints
In its third week in theaters, Disney’s latest superhero tentpole, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, continued to dominate the North American box office. Pulling in $21.7 million over the otherwise sleepy September frame, Marvel’s most recent epic shows little sign of slowing down and it is well on its way to surpassing its MCU stablemate, Black Widow, to become the top theatrical grosser of the pandemic-plagued year as it rocketed past the $300 million mark in worldwide ticket sales. Meanwhile, the weekend’s most high-profile newcomer, Clint Eastwood’s Western drama Cry Macho, bowed quietly in third place with a pokey $4.5 million as the cinema legend’s legion of older fans opted to stay home and stream the film from their La-Z-Boys.

Still, the story of the weekend—and of 2021 as a whole—is Shang-Chi, hands down. The comic-book extravaganza has proven that Disney’s COVID-era hybrid model (where it simultaneously released its splashiest titles in theaters and on Disney Plus for a $30 premium) is now looking like a thing of the past. In fact, Shang-Chi’s resounding success as a theatrical exclusive led the studio to recently announce that its remaining titles for 2021 (which includes Marvel’s Eternals and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story) would follow Shang-Chi’s lead and roll out solely in theaters before making their way to its streaming platform a month and a half later.

Shang-Chi, which is now on track to become the first film of 2021 to break the $200 million domestic box-office barrier, dropped off only -37.5% from the previous weekend. The PG-13-rated movie which stars Simu Liu and Awkwafina earned a $5,331 per-screen average in 4,070 theaters and pushed its domestic box-office tally to $176.9 million. Overseas, the film has added $143.7 million to date, which may sound low, but makes more sense considering that it still hasn’t been scheduled for release in China—one of Marvel’s biggest markets. Its worldwide cume after three weeks is $320.6 million.

Well below, in second place, was 20th Century Studios and Disney’s surprisingly resilient Free Guy with $5.2 million. The irreverent PG-13-rated action comedy dipped a mere -6.8% from the prior frame and managed a $1,581 per-screen average in 3,288 locations. After six weeks, the movie has compiled $108.6 million domestically and another $189.7 million abroad, bringing its current worldwide box office total to $298.3 million. It’s official: Ryan Reynolds is now a legit international draw.

Arriving in third place with a slow trot rather than an energetic gallop was Warner Bros.’ latest from director and star Eastwood, Cry Macho. Forecast to debut with receipts somewhere between $5 million and $10 million, the PG-13-rated Western drama about a former rodeo star hired by his ex-boss to bring the man’s son back from Mexico opened to a disappointing $4.5 million. The 91-year-old icon’s loyal fanbase is older and clearly chose to watch his latest film on HBO Max, where it was free to the streaming service’s subscribers. It didn’t help that the film didn’t exactly blow away critics (who gave it a 52% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) or audiences (who gave it a lukewarm ‘B’ CinemaScore grade). Cry Macho bowed to a $1,138 per-screen average in 3,967 theaters and tacked on a negligible $350,000 overseas, placing its first-week global cume at just under $4.9 million. For comparison, Eastwood’s last film—2018’s The Mule—debuted to $17.5 million and ended up pulling in $103.8 million in its North American theatrical run. Obviously, Cry Macho will come nowhere near that number.

In fourth place was Universal’s Candyman, which brought in $3.5 million in its fourth weekend. That number represents an impressive -26.5% drop from the prior session. The latest installment in the R-rated horror cycle, which stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, earned a $1,241 per-screen average in 2,820 theaters, putting its four-week North American total at $53.2 million. To date, Candyman has added $13.5 million from abroad, pushing its global box-office total to $66.7 million.

Rounding out the top five was Warner Bros.’ horror flick Malignant, which scared up a hair under $2.7 million in its sophomore weekend, putting its two-week domestic take at $9.8 million. The R-rated chiller starring Annabelle Wallis as a woman whose visions of brutal murders come true, fell -50.7% from its debut frame. Malignant earned a less-than-hair-raising $765 per-screen average in 3,501 theaters. So far, it has brought in a more robust $14.8 million in international markets, where it should be noted it opened a week earlier. The movie’s worldwide box office total currently stands at $24.6 million.

Simmering outside of the top five are three indie debuts: Open Road’s R-rated crime thriller Copshop, starring Gerard Butler, opened in sixth place with just under $2.7 million; Searchlight’s PG-13-rated The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which traces the rise and fall of real-life televangelists Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield) and his wife Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain), bowed in ninth place with $675,000 in limited release; and Focus Features’ R-rated immigration drama Blue Bayou, starring and helmed by Justin Chon, debuted in thirteenth place with $315,000 also in limited release.

Finally, there as one interesting box-office development from outside of the U.S., where the highly-anticipated sci-fi film, Dune, rolled out in 24 foreign markets. Warner Bros.’ big-budget adaptation of Frank Herbert’s cult novel starring Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, and Oscar Isaac doesn’t hit theaters (as well as HBO Max) until Oct. 22, but it racked up $35.8 million abroad hard on the heels of its well-received premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Of the territories where it bowed, Russia led the way with $7.6 million in receipts.