Marvel's Shang-Chi Projected to Have Lowest Opening In MCU History at the Box Office

By Sam Hargrave Updated:
Shang-Chi Black Widow Marvel Studios

After taking its first year away from theaters in ten years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marvel Studios made its big return to screens in July with Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow

As the ongoing pandemic continues to hinder the box office potential of every new release, Black Widow still managed to do reasonably well, becoming the biggest film release in over a year.

However, the spread of the Delta variant leading to a rise of cases and deaths has put Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at great risk of becoming a box office flop.

After Sony pushed back the release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage to allow cases to reduce, many have assumed the film will be hit with a delay. But it seems Disney and Marvel Studios will be pushing forward with its originally planned September 3 release nonetheless.

With just a few short weeks to go until the latest MCU flick hits theaters, the box office projections have been published for the Simu Liu flick.


Shang-Chi Movie

With under a month to go until the theatrical release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Boxoffice Pro published its domestic projections for the kung-fu flick, and it's quite lower than Black Widow.

The box office mogul forecasted Simu Liu's heroic debut for a three-day opening between $35 million and $55 million before going on to finish its theatrical run from $100 to $165 million domestically.

By comparison, Boxoffice Pro previously forecasted Black Widow for a three-day opening between $80 and $110 million for a domestic total of $205 to $310 million. The spy thriller's July release ended up coming in at the lower end spectrum with an $80 million domestic opening weekend and is currently at a $175 million total gross.

The lowest opening weekend for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film came in 2008 when The Incredible Hulk debuted with $55.4 million, a record which would seemingly be beaten by Shang-Chi should its current projections hold true. In April 2019, Avengers: Endgame smashed the all-time opening weekend record $357 million.


There are a number of clear factors for why Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will probably see a box office opening drastically lower than Black Widow. However, the rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths due to the circulation of the Delta variant is by far the most influential.

As the pandemic situation begins to worsen once again, many Americans are fearing another nationwide lockdown may be imminent to prevent the spread. But even as theaters currently remain open, moviegoers are becoming increasingly hesitant to risk their health by visiting packed ones.

Some studios are already beginning to delay their fall releases in the hopes of increasing box office potential. Among the delays have been Sony's Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Paramount's Clifford the Big Red Dog

Based on this, many expected Marvel Studios and Disney to delay Shang-Chi's MCU debut until later in the year in order to allow COVID-19 cases to reduce. At the time of writing, Disney has yet to officially announce any changes to its upcoming release slate.


Shang-Chi Movie Simu Liu

Even setting aside the pandemic that continues to ravage the world, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings probably would have performed lower than Black Widow.

By this point, fans have spent upwards of ten years getting to know Scarlett Johansson's spy hero and have been calling for her to lead her own solo film for some time. Now that Marvel Studios has finally delivered on those cries, fans were always bound to flock to theaters to see the original Avenger in action.

Additionally, Johansson is one of the most recognizable and renowned actresses currently working in Hollywood, meaning any film with her in it is always bound to do well. While Simu Liu is certainly an up-and-coming actor with great potential, he doesn't have the level of stardom to carry the film in quite the same way.

Unlike previous Marvel blockbusters, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will only have a 45-day theatrical window before releasing on Disney+ and other digital platforms. This reduced window could hinder the film drastically as some families simply opt to hold off on seeing the film until they can do some from their own home in a safer and cheaper way.


While Shang-Chi's low box office opening was certainly to be expected, it's rather unfortunate for the new hero to say the least. It's worth noting, unlike Black Widow, the kung-fu flick will be a theatrically exclusive feature, meaning it won't be supplemented by additional revenue from Disney+.

Assuming Shang-Chi can keep up internationally, Disney should still turn a profit on its latest Avenger. As much of the world has already experienced the Delta variant, it's entirely possible that the film's international gross will outperform the domestic numbers.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will hit theaters on September 3, 2021.

Release Date
September 03, 2021
- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.