'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' (Photo: Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.)

With little by way of competition, Disney’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings easily held the no. 1 position at the box office last weekend.

The first Marvel title to feature an Asian lead and an predominantly Asian cast, Shang-Chi mustered $1.4 million in its second frame, a drop of 28 per cent, moving to $4 million.

It is a good result for the title given how heavily disrupted the marketplace is, and the Simu Liu and Awkwafina-starrer will likely get a boost this Thursday when it in released in the cinemas previously closed in parts of regional Victoria and NSW.

Cinemas in regional Victoria (except Greater Shepparton) were able to reopen last Thursday, however under severe restrictions; 20 people per cinema. In certain parts of regional NSW, theatres were back online Saturday morning at one person per 4 square metres or 75 per cent of seating capacity. Masks are compulsory indoors in both states.

Majestic Cinemas was able to open five out of its six sites in NSW on the weekend, but CEO Kieren Dell notes it was still slow on the ground.

“It is fair to say, even with Free Guy opening, it was pretty quiet, showing how much of a momentum business we are. Hopefully it gives us a bit of a run up to the school holidays starting next week,” he tells IF. 

In Victoria, Village Cinemas national programming manager Geoff Chard was slightly more upbeat, and notes Shang-Chi should be promising come Thursday.

“We were quite encouraged by the box office performance at our regional complexes over the weekend, however it is difficult to get an accurate read on the market when our cinemas are limited to 20 people per auditorium,” he tells IF.

Wallis Cinemas saw Shang-Chi perform solidly again at its South Australian sites, and given restrictions is looking at excellent pre-sales for its debut this Thursday in its debut in Mildura, Victoria, programming manager David Simpson tells IF.

Yet speaking to how much exhibitors have relied on back catalogue during this lean time, last weekend Wallis played Emperor’s New Groove at SA’s Mainline Drive-In, mustering $9,715 from one session. That result meant the film was the 16th best performing nationally last weekend.

In the US, Shang-Chi also continues to reign at the box office, collecting $US35.8 million ($48.6 million), and is already the fourth highest grossing film of the year. Worldwide, the superhero film has made $US257.6 million ($349.7 million).

While recent Disney films such as Black Widow, Cruella and Jungle Cruise premiered simultaneously in theatres and on Disney+’s Premier Access, Shang-Chi‘s success as a theatrical exclusive will see the studio will follow the same path for the rest of its 2021 slate, which includes films such as Eternals, The Last Duel, West Side Story, Ron’s Gone Wrong and The King’s Man.

According to Numero, the top 20 titles collected $2.7 million, down 23 per cent on the previous weekend.

No title came close to Shang-Chi. However, with more screens coming online, most seem to be holding decently; no film in top 10 dipped more than 30 per cent on the previous weekend.

Disney’s Free Guy came in at second position with $494,080 in its fifth, taking it to $5.2 million, while WB’s The Suicide Squad garnered $152,034 in its sixth, moving to $5 million.

Aretha Franklin biopic Respect continues to be solid for Universal, with a result of $152,034 in its fourth weekend advancing its cume to $1.1 million.

Now in its seventh week, Disney’s Jungle Cruise sits on $3.6 million after collecting a further $93,704.

Horrors Don’t Breathe 2 (Sony) and Candyman (Universal), both in their third week now, are performing similarly. The former gathered $83,811 to move to $435,243, and the latter $78,710, totalling $392,746.

Nine weeks in, and Space Jam: A New Legacy is still sticking around, with the WB title now on $11.8 million after collecting an extra $52,689.

The best performing new release of the week was Maslow Entertainment/Umbrella Entertainment’s Ride the Eagle, which opened on 44 screens to $45,409.

Written and directed by Aussie Trent O’Donnell, the comedy stars Jake Johnson as a man whose estranged mother (Susan Sarandon) dies and leaves him a conditional inheritance. Before he can move into her picturesque cabin, he has to complete her to-do list as she tries to make amends from beyond the grave.

Rounding out the top 10 was Studiocanal’s French biopic Eiffel, which gathered $36,527 in its second weekend, moving to $435,736.

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