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Disney's (DIS) Shang-Chi Hits the Right Chord in U.S. Theaters

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The Walt Disney Company’s DIS latest movie, Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has hit the record for Labor Day openings with an estimated $71.4 million in ticket sales at U.S. theaters, according to the tracking website, Box Office Mojo.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings also made history as Marvel’s first movie featuring an Asian protagonist. Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu plays the title role of Shang-Chi in the story as a former martial arts assassin forced to confront his warlord father-owner of the mysterious Ten Rings organization and its army.

The Friday-to-Sunday gross for the latest Marvel film ranks as one of the best debuts of the pandemic, trailing only the previous Marvel film, Black Widow ($80.3 million in July). At the international box office, in key markets such as France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Japan, it garnered $56.2 million, taking the global three-day haul to $127.6 million.

The Walt Disney Company Price and Consensus

The Walt Disney Company Price and Consensus
The Walt Disney Company Price and Consensus

The Walt Disney Company price-consensus-chart | The Walt Disney Company Quote

Disney Tests Theatre-Only Movie Release Strategy

The Walt Disney Co. opted to release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings only in theaters where it will have an exclusive 45-day run. This was the first Marvel movie that has opened exclusively theatrically since Spider-Man: Far From Home in July 2019.

Impressively, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ranked ahead of Comcast CMCSA owned Universal’s Fast & Furious sequel F9 ($70 million) and ViacomCBS VIAC owned Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II ($48 million), both of which opened earlier in summer.

Sony SNE has moved up the theatrical release date for Venom: Let There be Carnage by two weeks to Oct 1 following Disney’s success at the box office.

Free Guy, from Disney's 20th Century Studios, contractually obligated to be released only in theaters, has grossed $239.2 million globally. Without an in-home option, the Ryan Reynolds film has held especially strongly. In China, Free Guy has made $57 million in less than two weeks.

However, the pandemic has made it even tougher to sell movie tickets, especially with the rise of the Delta variant keeping some viewers home and forcing several movie openings to be delayed including Paramount Pictures' Top Gun: Maverick, Jackass Forever, and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Moreover, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings does not have a release date in China, which is an important territory for Marvel movies.

This makes it challenging to predict this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company’s release strategy for Marvel’s upcoming installment Eternals, which is scheduled for Nov. 5. It could follow in the path of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings or it could replicate the pandemic-inspired rollout of many of the studio’s recent movies, such as Black Widow, Cruella, and Jungle Cruise, which premiered simultaneously in cinemas and on Disney+ Premier Access for $30. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

In contrast, Disney and Pixar’s Luca streamed directly on Disney+, which faces significant competition in the streaming space from the likes of Netflix.


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