James Wan’s ‘Malignant’ No Match For ‘Shang-Chi”
After its record-shattering Labor Day weekend debut, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to rule the box office in its second weekend. The latest Marvel superhero movie has exceeded expectations, and there was a collective sigh of relief for the industry after over a month of disappointing box office returns. With confirmation that a blockbuster is still possible in the current environment, as well as the appearance that the current Covid-19 wave may be turning around, the future of the box office is finally looking brighter, even though the month of September is light on major releases. It has certainly given Sony some confidence, as they have moved forward the release date of Venom: Let There Be Carnage by two weeks to October 1.

Shang-Chi is the year’s second best opening weekend after Black Widow, but with its Labor Day holiday gross it was able to pull ahead, and it became the fastest film of the year to reach $100 million, doing it in five days, compared to six for Black Widow. Considering Shang-Chi is a theatrical exclusive for 45 days rather than being available on Disney+ as Black Widow was, it is expected to hold better than Black Widow's 67.8% drop in its second weekend.

Shang-Chi’s “A“ Cinemascore is a sign word of mouth will be strong, and there is a solid chance it will continue to grow its day-for-day lead on Black Widow and eventually become the year’s highest grosser. Beating Black Widow’s $25.8 million second weekend would give Shang-Chi the best second weekend of the pandemic, adding to its records for the pandemic’s best Monday gross and the biggest Labor Day weekend gross of all time.

The week’s biggest newcomer is Malignant, which WB is releasing through New Line Cinemas and debuting the same day on HBO Max. It is the first horror film in five years from James Wan, the creator of the Saw , Insidious , and Conjuring franchises, who most recently directed 2018’s Aquaman and is currently working on the sequel, which is due for a December 2022 release. Malignant is about a woman, played by Annabelle Wallis, whose visions of brutal murders become even more disturbing when she finds out they are real.

It is the first new property from Wan since 2013 when he made the franchise-spawning The Conjuring. Wan’s fingerprints can be felt on a few other films this summer. He executive produced Spiral, the latest entry in the Saw franchise which he launched 17 years ago, and he produced and co-wrote the story for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, after having directed the first two films in the series. Malignant opened overseas last weekend, nabbing only $2.4 million from 24 markets. The domestic reviews have not yet come in.

Most significant in the specialty box office is The Card Counter from writer/director Paul Schrader. Focus Features is distributing the gambling-themed film which stars Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, and Willem Dafoe and is executive produced by Martin Scorsese. With near unanimous praise from critics (92% on Rotten Tomatoes) after it premiered last week at the Venice International Film Festival, where it is playing in competition, it looks like another winner for Schrader. His previous film First Reformed grossed $3.4 million and got Schrader his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, a long overdue recognition for the writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.

Also in limited release is Queenpins, a crime comedy from STX Entertainment which stars Kristen Bell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Paul Walter Hauser, Bebe Rexha, and Vince Vaughn. The film will be available to watch on Paramount+ on September 30.

The documentary Show Me The Father is the latest from the Kendricks Brothers, who have a history of successful Christian films, including Courageous ($34.5 million), War Room ($67.8 million), and Overcomer ($34.7 million). It is distributed by Affirm Films.

Amazon Studios is debuting its stage musical adaptation Everybody's Talking About Jamie one week ahead of its Prime streaming release. Before the pandemic, Disney/20th Century were planning a wide theatrical release in October 2020, and they later sold it to Amazon.

Tango Shalom from Atlas Distribution had the best per theater average in last weekend’s specialty box office with $5k over the three days, and it grossed $25k total from four screens over the long weekend. This weekend it expands to 20 markets. The film is about an Orthodox Jewish rabbi entering a dance competition, and its release coincides with the Jewish High Holy Days.