‘Shang-Chi’ Strong Second Weekend With $31M+; ‘Malignant’ Dying

Refresh for more analysis and chart With great success, comes continued great chaos for the theatrical experience this past week. On the plus side, the domestic box office is continuing its rebound during the pandemic with the second weekend of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings earning $9.7M in its second Friday, -67%  for an estimated 3-day of $31.8M which is the fourth biggest second weekend for a September release after It ($60.1M), It Chapter Two ($39.6M), and Hotel Transylvania 2 ($33.1M). Disney responds after the Marvel pic’s record Labor Day frame opening last weekend of $94.6M, by announcing that the rest of its domestic release slate for the year will honor a theatrical window ranging from 30-45 days per pic. Great, right?

But then Universal decides to take a solid franchise sequel they’ve been holding during the pandemic, Halloween Kills, and go day-and-date with it on Oct. 15. This coupled with news that Paramount Chairman & CEO and largely respecter of theatrical windows Jim Gianopulos is exiting the studio as ViacomCBS doubles down on streaming service Paramount+. Seriously, what the hell is going on? Does the town think we’re going to sit on our couches and watch our cell phones for eternity? The big screen is the curation of great product, don’t ya get that? How should we sift through a sea of titles on streaming menus if we don’t know what’s great yet?

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Warner Bros. which has turned the post-Labor Day frame into a blockbuster frame, staring with 2017’s It (with a $123.4M opening), and has continued to rule it with horror movies as It Chapter Two ($91M) and The Nun ($53.8M), will have to look forward to regaining its rule over this weekend next year with the New Line adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, because this weekend’s James Wan’s Daria Argento-inspired Malignant via New Line doesn’t quite cut it with a theatrical debut of $5.5M per Warner Bros. after a $2M Friday. The pic is primed to slot No. 2. While we can always rely on HBO Max for siphoning grosses, this title actually divided audiences with a C CinemaScore and even worse PostTrak exits at 59% positive and a 38% definite recommend despite most critics giving the pic a 77% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. The movie had an ending with a big twist, so it was hard for WarnerMedia to market the movie, and if you do a deep dive in reviews, you find that the pic was gory. The Associated Press’ Lindsey Bahr says “If you must see Malignant, a theater might honestly be the best bet. That way at least you can laugh along in utter shock with your fellow theater-goers” while calling the Wan directed title a “thanklessly humorless and offensively sadistic film that fails to capture any sort of authentic emotion or make any meaningful statements about trauma.” Eeeks. Wan and Warner Bros have easily moved on from this blunder; he’s already in production on Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. If you’re here at TIFF, you can’t watch the movie on your phone, because HBO Max isn’t available in the country. Either head out to Cineplex to see it or rent it on PVOD here. Malignant, I hear cost $40m before P&A, and was a co-production between Starlight and New Line.

Malignant pulled in 68% 18-34, the tried and true moviegoers coming out during the pandemic, leaning 57% male and 68% over 25. Diversity breakdown was  42% Caucasian, 25% Latino, 18% Black and15% Asian/other. Pic’s best ticket sales were in West and South with L.A. venues dominant filling out of the top ten runs with two from San Antonio.

The Card Counter

Focus Features has the Paul Schrader directed noir The Card Counter which after launching in Venice is 86% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The pic, which is set to rank No. 7, is set to make $1.05M at 580 locations in 127 markets for a $1,8K theater average after a $420K Friday. The movie is on a 17-day window and had some OK runs in New York, LA, Phoenix, San Diego and Austin. While the arthouse isn’t screaming back, it’s a notable take for a limited Focus release currently in less than 1K theaters, just behind their their Anthony Bourdain documentary Roadrunner which opened to close to $2M in 927 theaters and finaled at $5.2M. Schrader’s Oscar nominated First Reformed during the summer of 2018 had a platform release opening in $97,5K in four theaters over Memorial Day weekend and ultimately finaling stateside at $3.4M.

Sony Affirm had the faith-based title from producers the Kendrick Brothers, Show Me the Father which made $275K on Friday on its way to a $750K take from 1,073 locations. No reviews yet, but those who watched it, enjoyed it with an 88% on PostTrak and a 67% recommend. Pic skewed 53% guys, 71% over 35 and 52% over 45 with 63% Caucasian, 15% Black, 17% Asian/other and 5% Latino showing up. Pic played in the faith-based tracks of the Mid-West and South with the strongest draw in the Southeast. The Rick Altizer directed movie features captivating stories interwoven with inspirational truths about the fatherhood of God.

1.) Shang-Chi (Dis) 4,300 theaters Fri $9.7M (-67%), 3-day $31.8M (-58%), Total: $141.6M/Wk 2

2.) Malignant (NL) 3,485 theaters Fri $2M/3-day $5.5M/Wk 1

3.) Free Guy (20th) 3,650 theaters (-235)/Fri $1.47M (-30%)/3-day $5.2M (-41%)/Total $101.2M/Wk 5

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