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Shang-Chi Is Now The First Movie To Pass $200M Since Bad Boys For Life

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys For Life.

All the way back in January of 2020, the third film in the Martin Lawrence/Will Smith Bad Boys franchise opened to a rather fantastic $62.5M 3-day/$73M 4-day over the MLK Day holiday weekend. It was far above expectations, as the aging franchise film opened almost 16 years after the previous installment and featured a Martin Lawrence who had been barely working. Yet the fans reminded the industry that they show up for movies that aren’t just superhero flicks.

The original Bad Boys was a hit, opening to $15.5M and finishing with $65.8M domestic back in April of 1995, on a rather tight $19M budget. The 2003 sequel received a supercharged budget of $130M due to the immense increased popularity of Will Smith and director Michael Bay. Bad Boys 2 opened to $46.5M and finished with $138.6 million. A number that should have signaled a surge in audience interest, but instead was viewed as a disappointment due to the huge budget. This is part of why Bad Boys For Life making as much as it did was so shocking.

On March 7th, 2020, during its eighth weekend in release, Bad Boys For Life crossed $200M. It would mark the last time the milestone was reached until yesterday, September 30th, 2021. Over a year and a half later. Shang-Chi made a hair over $750,000 yesterday, which was just enough to get it to $200M. Bad Boys 3 finished with $206.3M, a number Shang-Chi could pass this weekend.

Tony Leung and Simu Liu in Shang-Chi.

My math sees Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings pulling in between $6.5M to $7M on its fifth weekend, which will be enough for it to be ever so barely ahead of the blockbuster cop flick. If it comes in a little lower due to all the competition this weekend (Venom 2, Addams Family 2, and The Many Saints of Newark all open), then perhaps it will take until Monday or, at the absolute latest, Tuesday. Either way, once the MCU martial arts film passes $206.3M, it will be the biggest domestic earner since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker all the way back in December of 2019.

That obviously means the film is so far the biggest pandemic era hit, and while it may “only” finish with between $425M and $450M worldwide (due not being released in China and a fluctuating overseas market), its domestic success says one thing loud and clear: audiences want to go the movies.

We’ve known the box office could support bigger flicks since Godzilla vs. Kong opened to over $30M at the end of March. Then we’ve seen movies such as A Quiet Place 2 ($160M), F9 ($173M), Black Widow ($184M), Free Guy ($115M+), Jungle Cruise ($115M+), and of course Shang-Chi all find great success. What we haven’t had yet is a steady steam of big movies back-to-back-to back. October is about to change that as we see one or two big releases each weekend, with most of them being theatrical exclusives.

That theatrical exclusivity is a huge part of why Shang-Chi has been so successful domestically. The other reasons are also obvious: the MCU is a huge deal and the movie itself is really, really dang good (92% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, 98% from verified audiences). Either way, this is a landmark moment for the industry. If this had gone to Disney Plus simultaneously, it would have made a good bit less than Black Widow. Then we may have seen Venom 2 delayed further (it moved UP two weeks after Shang-Chi‘s opening weekend). More films also may have moved away from theatrical exclusivity, fearing that the box office wasn’t ready to truly support blockbusters. Well the market *is* ready, and Let There Be Carnage is already off to a hot start with the second highest Thursday preview gross of the year (more on that here). Buckle up folks, this month is going to be very exciting.

Congratulations Shang-Chi, it couldn’t have happened to a better film.

Both these films are huge successes that make the box office nerd in me very excited.

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