Shang Chi A Hit?

Shang Chi A Hit?

Shang Chi appears to be a massive hit.  A $90+ million domestic opening weekend with $56 million foreign is nothing short of amazing.  Stunning even, when you factor in that a Labor Day release never does better than $40 million tops.  Perhaps, startling is the proper term, when you see that all of this overnight rabid interest in the movie, must have driven the video pirates straight.  Nobody is downloading this film illegally.  Black Widow was the most pirated film in history but this flick, while available on the high seas, isn’t getting downloaded at all.  When you add that in, Shang Chi’s performance appears to be unreal.  Maybe that’s the best word for it, unreal.

Although, I think the newspeak term for this is actually “Fortified Box Office.”

Regardless, I need to make clear that I have no inside track at Disney and this is all speculation on my part.

My suspicions about this film’s awesome numbers were aroused by a friend of mine who had reserved a seat in a theater that was 90% sold out online.  But when he went to watch it, he was the only one in the theater.  Also, he walked out but this isn’t a review.

There are plenty of other stories like this out there.

If true, why do this for Shang Chi?  Captain Marvel was quite understandable.  Marvel couldn’t afford anything short of epic box office right before Endgame.  But Shang Chi?

Perhaps a better question would be, does this hurt Bob Chapek?

Answer: Greatly.

Chapek had banked a big part of his fledgling reputation on this film underperforming.  And now it’s a hit.  All of the trade publications, who are totally against Chapek BTW, are pointing out how big this flick is.  Chapek’s dismissive “data point” is now hanging around his neck.  

Since the accountant got something like this wrong, is he the right man to lead Disney.  Maybe it’s time to bring Bob Iger back?”  

Those are the remarks you are going to be seeing next week.  

Chapek looked at the numbers, and more or less said, if this is a bomb then my Disney+ plan is clearly the right way to go.  It was a very safe bet since the movie was tracking terribly.

Feige and Iger probably looked at each other and giggled. “Gee, how can we ever make this movie a hit?”  And then dug out the lessons learned from Captain Marvel.  If anything, the process was more efficient this time.

You are probably wondering if the box office was indeed “fortified,” then how is Marvel getting away with it? 

Two reasons.  

One. It isn’t that expensive.  Disney gets back 90% of the first week’s revenue on theatrical releases.  So, most of that money goes back to the company, and the ten percent that doesn’t can be written off as promotional expenses.  There is a reason these things fall off a cliff in the second week.  It doesn’t really hurt Disney all that much.

Although, this absolutely sodomizes the theater owners since the only way they make money that first week is popcorn and sodas.  No audience, nobody going to the lobby to have a snack.  It’s a brutal loss for them.

Second. Because Marvel, not Disney, is in charge of marketing and promotion.  Chapek really couldn’t do much to stop this, even if he had known about it.  And now that he does there is nothing, he can do about it.

Or at least he can’t do anything that won’t completely shatter Disney’s over-inflated stock price and get him fired.

If he orders a forensic audit and makes the results public.  Yes, he could prove that Shang Chi’s returns were fraudulent (assuming they were). But the golden Marvel brand takes a massive hit. And various government oversight agencies are going to be forced to crack open Disney’s books.  All of the rumors about Captain Marvel’s numbers will be viewed by the public as proven fact.  

It will crash the Disney stock price

And if the Feds look into Disney Parks, god help Chapek.  He was the head of the parks when the worst of that was going on.  Forget about losing his job, he could go to jail.

He can’t even make a discreet inquiry with the Johansson lawsuit in arbitration, Chapek doesn’t dare create a paper trail about something that could come out in the discovery process, if this suit escalates back into the civil courts.  Even so, Shang Chi’s opening weekend could support her case (California law permitting).

Marvel has had a win in its battle with Bob Chapek.  While Shang Chi will absolutely fall off a cliff next weekend, nobody is going to care about that.

This round of the Disney Civil War goes to Marvel.

Share this post