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Box Office: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Sings Off-Key With $7.5M Debut; ‘Shang-Chi’ Stays No. 1

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 9/26/2021 Pamela McClintock

Universal’s Dear Evan Hansen sang off-key in its big-screen debut with a $7.5 million second-place finish as superhero sensation Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings continued to top the domestic chart in its fourth weekend upon earning another $13.3 million.

Additionally, Shang-Chi became the top-grossing pic of the pandemic era in North America, a record previously held by fellow Marvel Studios title Black Widow ($183.4 million). The Marvel and Disney tentpole finished Sunday with a domestic gross of $196.5 million.

Overseas, Shang-Chi took in another $14 million from 45 markets for an international box office cume of $166.9 million and $363.4 million globally. But it was Warner Bros. and Legendary’s sci-fi epic Dune that topped the foreign chart with $26.3 million from 32 markets for an early offshore cume of $76.5 million. Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve, opened last weekend in select markets, including in much of Europe. The sci-fi epic lands in U.S. theaters on Oct. 22.

In North America, Dear Evan Hansen‘s mediocre launch was mitigated by the fact that the movie adaptation of the smash Broadway musical cost less than $30 million to produce, a relatively modest sum for a major Hollywood studio offering.

It remains to be seen whether the Universal film can overcome generally poor reviews (its current ranking on Rotten Tomatoes is 33 percent). Audiences liked the coming-of-age story far more, giving it an A- CinemaScore.

Dear Evan Hansen was filmed in the latter half of summer 2020 by director Stephen Chbosky during the pandemic, with Ben Platt — now 27 years old — reprising his Tony Award-winning lead role as a lonely, disconnected high-school student. Hopes were high, considering that the Tony award-winning stage play was a cultural phenomenon.

Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Colton Ryan, Julianne Moore and Amy Adams also star in the musical,

Musicals are tricky business at the box office. When they strike a chord, a Hollywood studio can mint gold (look no further than Universal’s Mamma Mia! or 20th Century Fox’s The Greatest Showman). When they don’t, there is plenty of disappointment to go around (Cats).

Filmmaker Jon M. Chu’s In the Heights, from Warner Bros. and adapted from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s stage musical, also opened during the pandemic. That film fared somewhat better in its opening than did Dear Evan Hansen with $11.5 million, but topped out at just $29.8 million domestically. (One difference: In the Heights debuted simultaneously on HBO Max.)

Dear Evan Hansen played best overall on the East Coast in terms of revenue, but the standout market was Salt Lake City, where six of the top 10 grossing theaters were located. The musical has yet to open overseas.

Females made up 62 percent of ticket buyers in North America, while nearly half the audience was under the age of 25.

Box office results are difficult to analyze amid the ongoing pandemic and the virulent Delta variant, but the Dear Evan Hansen team had hoped the musical would clear $10 million.

Shang-Chi continues to be a needed balm for box office advocates. Disney opted to give the film an exclusive theatrical release versus opening it day and date on the big screen and Disney+ at a premium price, as it did with Black Widow and several other pandemic-era releases.

Over Labor Day, Shang-Chi smashed the record for the four-day holiday with a haul of $94.7 million. For the three days, it earned $75.4 million, a huge number for September and the second-biggest start of 2021 behind Black Widow ($80.3 million).

From filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton, Shang-Chi stars Simu Liu as Marvel’s newest hero and is the studio’s first to center on an Asian lead. The superhero offering has been fueled by positive reviews, strong exits from audiences and an A CinemaScore. Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Tony Leung, Fala Chen and Michelle Yeoh also star.

Sleeper hit Free Guy, which also debuted exclusively in cinemas, is another win for theatrical.

The Shawn Levy and Ryan Reynolds’ movie, from 20th Century and Disney, placed No. 3 all the way in its seventh weekend with $4.1 million for a domestic cume of $114.1 million. Globally, the film has now cleared $317.4 million after jumping the $200 million mark internationally on Saturday or Sunday. The foreign tally includes a hefty $94 million-plus from China.

In North America, Universal and Blumhouse’s horror offering Candyman came in No. 4 in its fifth outing with $2.5 million for a domestic tally of $56.8 million and $73 million-plus worldwide.

Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho, which rounded out the top five, tumbled a steep $52 percent in its second weekend to $2.1 million for a muted 10-day domestic total of $8.3 million. The Warner Bros. release is also available on HBO Max.

Elsewhere, Searchlight and Disney’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye expanded nationwide in its second weekend, but struggled to find is footing. The specialty offering, directed by Michael Showalter, earned an estimated $621,000 from 1,367 locations for a cume of $1.5 million. Jessica Chastain stars in the film — she is also among the producers — opposite Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, and Vincent D’Onofrio.

Netflix opened filmmaker Antoine Fuqua’s crime-thriller The Guilty, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, in some 50 theaters across the country ahead of the movie’s Oct. 1 debut on the streaming service, but didn’t disclose grosses.

11:30 a.m., Sept. 26 Updated with foreign grosses.


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