Just when you thought the box office was finally showing some signs of life after well over a year in the doldrums, more uncertainty has emerged following a succession of poor weekends, and now the latest highly contagious strain of Coronavirus sweeping the country.
Several titles have posted big openings over the last month or so including Fast & Furious 9, Black Widow, Space Jam: A New Legacy, and Jungle Cruise, but they’ve been outliers. The Top 10 has combined to crack $100 million just once this year, and that was thanks almost entirely to Scarlett Johansson’s Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster bringing in $80 million of that total.
Black Widow and the Space Jam sequel both suffered massive drops the following weekend, and after a global debut north of $150 million, the MCU’s feature-length Phase Four opener has struggled. Paramount pulled Clifford the Big Red Dog from the schedule due to these concerns, with rumors abounding that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is no longer guaranteed to hit the big screen in four weeks.
We’re now hearing from our sources – the same ones who told us the Mandarin would be retconned as Shang-Chi’s father in the movie – that Marvel Studios are keeping a close eye on how the situation continues to develop, with more delays not being ruled out despite cutting it so close.
Looking at the Johansson situation, Shang-Chi and Eternals likely won’t be awarded hybrid releases this late in the day, but with neither comic book adaptation guaranteed a release in the lucrative Chinese market, Marvel may take action to ensure that the commercial prospects aren’t too heavily affected by the ongoing downturn in business, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.