Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has been a highly anticipated movie in the MCU. The superhero adventure features the first lead Asian protagonist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and there are many who have been waiting to see just what this new Avenger can do. But the movie has not been without its controversies, and it appears that a new one has reared its head. This latest snafu will pose some serious problems for the movie’s box office tally.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be the first MCU film since the pandemic started to exclusively release in theaters, but when it hits theaters this weekend, there will be one major market that Shang Chi will not be shown in.
Shang-Chi has not been approved for distribution in China, which will cause a major hit to the box office gross. MCU films tend to take ten to twenty percent of their box office from China. Without the Chinese box office money, Shang Chi is almost certainly guaranteed to have a lower box office tally than other comparable MCU films. Since 2012′s The Avengers, China has been the second-highest grossing box office for all Marvel movies, just behind the U.S. and Canada.
The underlying controversy seems to stem from the film’s casting and the perception of the comic book series that Shang Chi is based on. The comic books on which the film is based have been considered racist and filled with reductive stereotypes. Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige has assured the public that the subject matter will be handled with racial sensitivity, but that does not seem to be enough to save the movie from being banned in China.
Marvel’s Eternals may also face issues in China, but for different reasons. Director Chloe Zhao has become persona-non-grata in China after certain comments she has said about the country made their way online. Her achievements have been stricken from the Chinese web, and it is reasonable to assume that movies she directs in the future will face bans in China.
That means that the next Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that might be shown in China is the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is still scheduled to hit theaters this December. Chinese audiences starved for MCU films will likely flock to theaters when that film is released in China.
For now, though, Shang Chi is the next MCU film to be released. And although it will not be released in China, it is expected to do well over Labor Day weekend. With it being a theater-only release and, of course, tied to the previous 24 MCU films, the film is expected to do well in the US and Canada. It is expected to be number one in the market with the very real possibility of breaking the record for the Labor Day weekend box office tally.