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Marvel’s ‘Shang-Chi’ Obliterates Pandemic Box-Office Records; Is Premier Access Finished?

Jeff Kotuby

Looks like Disney’s “experiment” with Shang-Chi paid off in spades — but could it mean the end for Premier Access?

Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings grossed $75.5 million during its opening 3-day weekend and is projected to hit over $90 million when taking Labor Day into account, by far the highest in the pandemic era and the highest total ever for a Labor Day weekend release. If Shang-Chi could generate that much revenue, even as Delta variant cases start to spike, could we have seen the last day-and-date Disney+ Premier Access film in Jungle Cruise?

Disney has said it would continue to offer Premier Access titles on a, “film-by-film basis to do what is in the best interest of the film and the best interest of our constituents.”

So while Marvel’s Black Widow and the aforementioned Jungle Cruise both split time between theaters and Premier Access — and may have suffered financially because of itShang-Chi seems to be knocking it out of the park as a theatrical-only experience.

As far as “day-and-date” streaming films are concerned, it’s a mixed bag of results. Under the Disney umbrella, Black Widow amassed $60 million in Premier Access sales, the highest totals in the service’s brief history, while Jungle Cruise reached $30 million in sales, both great numbers for Disney (although theater owners certainly aren’t happy about the simultaneous release.) Outside of Disney, films like The Boss Baby 2 released straight to streaming and were celebrated, receiving over 750,000 views during its “opening weekend” on Peacock.

Keep in mind that Shang-Chi has some things going for it other films may not. For starters, Shang-Chi was released on Labor Day weekend after months upon months of advertising hyping up the film. Travel is decreasing due to rising Delta numbers, so the local theater offers a “safer” experience for those looking for something to do on a long weekend. Oh, and the film’s getting rave reviews from critics and fans alike, which always helps. The cast also received a groundswell of support after Disney’s CEO said the film would serve as an “interesting experiment” for the company’s plans moving forward.

We speculated about what Disney’s next Premier Access film could be and thought Shang-Chi would be one of the films headed to the platform. However, its box office performance may be an indicator of the program’s future. While we could very well still see smaller releases hit Premier Access, we’ll likely have to head to the theaters to see any future Marvel films, such as their upcoming November release, Eternals.

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