LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) - Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, the first Marvel film featuring an Asian actor as the star, dominated the North American weekend box office with an all-time record for a film opening over Labour Day.
The Walt Disney movie made US$94.7 million (S$127 million) in American and Canadian cinemas over the four-day weekend, according to data from Comscore. The result exceeded an initial forecast of about US$63 million by researcher Boxoffice Pro.
The film hit home with Asian filmgoers, who represented about 17 per cent of theatre attendees over the weekend, more than double their usual turnout for a Marvel film, according to demographic data supplied by Disney.
It did particularly well in cities with large Asian populations, including San Francisco, Honolulu and Vancouver.
AMC Entertainment Holdings, the largest theatre chain in the world, said it set an admissions-revenue record for the holiday weekend, and that it was the first weekend since the pandemic hit that surpassed pre-Covid sales.
About two million people in the United States watched movies at AMC between last Thursday and Sunday, the company said in a statement.
Shang-Chi also had the second-highest three-day opening weekend of the pandemic, after Black Widow. All of the films in cinemas took in US$134.6 million, the best Labour Day weekend since 2014, Comscore data showed.
The Labour Day holiday is traditionally a slow one for the US film industry, as consumers are usually distracted by kids returning to school and the start of college football. The movie business is still coping with the pandemic, with swaths of cinemas in Asia and Latin America closed.
Disney took a gamble releasing Shang-Chi only in cinemas and on last weekend. It is the second major movie this year Disney has debuted solely in cinemas, instead of making its movies simultaneously available on Disney+ for free or for a US$30 fee.
The Marvel picture tells the story of Shang-Chi, played by Simu Liu, who is "drawn into the mysterious Ten Rings organisation", according to a description from the studio. It has a 92 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the more critically acclaimed comic book films.
Candyman, a thriller from Universal Pictures, took the No. 2 spot at the box office last weekend, in its second week out. It made US$12.5 million in North America.
Another Disney film, Free Guy, which is also only in cinemas, made US$11.2 million in its fourth week.