‘Shang-Chi’ Movies (2021) Becomes Highest-Grossing Domestic Release of the Pandemic
The Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster toppled stablemate ‘Black Widow’ to take the crown.
By the end of today, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will have become the highest-grossing domestic release of the pandemic. The martial arts-infused comic book blockbuster has been surpassing expectations at every turn, and this is just the latest feather in the cap of the franchise’s newest Avenger.
Shang-Chi is currently sitting on $183.4 million domestic, which means that it needs just $200,000 to snatch the crown away from fellow MCU stablemate Black Widow, once again reinforcing Kevin Feige’s all-conquering outfit as the biggest game in town. That’s an incredible achievement, especially when early estimates had Shang-Chi (2021) debuting to a franchise-low total, but it’s now got a real chance of becoming the first title since Bad Boys for Life to crack $200 million in the United States, and the action threequel hit theaters all the way back in January 2020.
Shang-Chi is also set to win the box office for a fourth consecutive weekend, with Dear Evan Hansen providing the only real competition if you could even call it that based on the critical reactions. Having already tripled the Labor Day record and continued to hold firm ever since, the 25th installment in the superhero saga will be sitting on around $195 million domestic by Sunday if not even higher.
Globally, Shang-Chi is already the fifth-biggest earner Hollywood blockbuster of the pandemic behind Fast & Furious 9, Godzilla vs. Kong, Black Widow, and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, so the good news just keeps on coming for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Movie, which proves that theatrical exclusives are still more than capable of doing big business without setting foot on a streaming service.
However, Shang-Chi will be heading to Disney+ this winter, coming to the streamer on its inaugural Disney+ Day, November 12, for subscribers to stream at no additional cost.
‘Dune’ Unleashes ‘China Exclusive’ Trailer Revealing New Details
“Dune” is seeking to lure in China viewers with a new trailer revealing not-yet-seen scenes billed as a “China exclusive.”
Without dropping spoilers, the clip shows new images of story’s legendary sandworms and the character Paul Atreides’ visions, among other things.
The trailer is slightly more explanatory and less action-oriented. Text inserted into the clip features lines in Chinese that roughly translate to: “From the depths of hopelessness a legend is born. Don’t fear the future.”
“Dune” Movies has made a particular effort to court viewers in the world’s largest film market, delivering its first press conference virtually to Chinese media ahead even of its post-premiere presser at Venice earlier this month.
With its large $165 million budget, it will need to see strong global sales to turn a profit. So far, it has mined $35.8 million out of 24 overseas markets as of Sunday, its first weekend in theaters.
While the China release will come after the film’s outing in Hong Kong and Taiwan, it will be day-and-date with the U.S. on Oct. 22. It will be contending with holdover patriotic Chinese blockbusters set to release over the Oct. 1 National Day holiday, foremost among them the war film “The Battle at Changjin Lake,” co-directed by Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark and Dante Lam.
Chinese viewers have greater enthusiasm for sci-fi in the wake of the breakout box office success of 2019 local blockbuster “The Wandering Earth,” an adaptation of a Liu Cixin novella that became China’s fourth highest grossing film of all time with sales of $691 million.
But Villeneuve’s carefully crafted tales have previously gone a bit over the head of many Chinese viewers.
The country was the top overseas territory for both “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049,” which grossed $15.9 million and $11.7 million there, respectively — but clearly the figures pale in comparison to homegrown “Wandering Earth,” making up less than 0.02% of the latter’s takings.
Community Engagement Movie Night Featuring Space Jam 2: A New Legacy
This Friday night, the City of New Rochelle will be hosting a movie night featuring Space Jam 2: A New Legacy and a basketball tournament as the kick-off event for a series of community engagement activations planned to engage with residents and hear feedback relating to the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) currently underway.
Join the City from 5pm-9pm at the Lincoln Avenue basketball courts at Prince Street for the event which will include a basketball tournament, screening of Space Jam 2: A New Legacy and a Q & A with the film’s Director and New Rochelle resident Malcolm Lee. The movie’s virtual reality theme relates to New Rochelle’s own story as the City implements innovative technologies to better equip the downtown for the future.
Local officials are expected to attend, including Westchester County Legislator Damon Maher, New York State Senator Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and New Rochelle Council Member Yadira Ramos-Herbert. New Rochelle residents will have the opportunity to provide valuable feedback about the DRI projects and the City’s future.
Free refreshments, snow cones and popcorn will be offered and attendees are encouraged to bring blankets for the movie viewing. Join the City of New Rochelle, in partnership with the New Rochelle Industrial Development Agency (IDA), RFW Consultants and Team 914, for a fun filled night!
‘Escape Room 2’ Blu-ray Release Will Include Alternate Ending and Extended Cut
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is coming to digital and disc with an extended cut that adds an alternate ending to the movie. Lovers of deadly games will also have the opportunity to take a peek inside the production of Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, with new behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews added to the home release.
The sequel follows Escape Room survivors Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) as the duo decided to take the fight directly to their captors, after learning that the company that builds the deadly escape games, Minos, is hidden in Manhattan. However, Minos is one step ahead of the duo, and Zoey and Ben end up trapped in another twisted game with four other survivors, played by Carlito Olivero, Indya Moore, Holland Roden, and Thomas Cocquerel. The new set of deadly escape rooms was put in place by Minos to test the few people who got alive from a game, and the extended cut promises to add even more creative deaths to the movie, especially with an alternate ending attached to it.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions Movies script is penned by Will Honley, Oren Uziel, and Maria Melnik & Daniel Tuch, based on a story by Honley and Christine Lavaf & Fritz Bohm. Melnik worked on the first movie’s script together with Bragi F. Schut. The sequel brings back Adam Robitel as director and Neal H. Moritz as producer, the positions they had in Escape Room.
‘Escape from Mogadishu’ director credits staff for its success
Filmmaker Ryoo Seung-wan’s action blockbuster “Escape from Mogadishu” surpassed 3 million in ticket sales on Sunday 33 days after its release on July 28, casting aside the record set by Marvel’s “Black Widow” of 2.96 million admissions to become the most-watched film at the local box office this year.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country in February last year, “Mogadishu” is the third highest-selling local film after “Deliver Us From Evil” and “Peninsula,” which recorded 4.35 million and 3.81 million in box office sales, respectively. Of the three, “Mogadishu” had the biggest production budget with 25.5 billion won ($22 million). Despite the heightened social distancing measures, positive reviews drew audiences to the theaters.
“Since the pandemic hit, the main moviegoers who are visiting theaters are those in their 20s and 30s,” said Jung Kyung-jae, the head of the film department in Lotte Cultureworks. “The biggest outcome from this film was that we could, once more, captivate the audience’s interest toward films.”
The JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, learned from the film’s distributor and production studio Filmmaker R&K the backstory of the film’s success.
“We did not anticipate that Level 4 social distancing would drag on this long,” Filmmaker R&K’s CEO Kang Hye-jung said. Kang runs the studio with her husband and filmmaker Ryoo. “If we had forecasted this situation, we wouldn’t have released the film in local theaters. It’s as if we were suddenly placed in the ring of a boxing fight, but it’s the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).”
Not only did theaters have to close at 10 p.m. because of the regulations under Level 4, the film also had to compete with the live broadcast of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Escape from Mogadishu” Movies is based on a true story which took place in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia in 1991. North and South Korean embassy workers had to band together to escape the civil war. A star cast including Kim Yoon-seok and Zo In-sung portray the South Korean embassy workers while Huh Joon-ho and Koo Kyo-hwan portray those from the North. The film was shot entirely in Morocco, marking the first time a local movie has been completely filmed overseas.
“We thought the film contained a narrative which would appeal to a wider range of audiences and give them a good reason to want to see it on the big screen [due to gun-action and car-action scenes],” Jung said. “We were confident about our film from the beginning. We strategized to secure plenty of time for the film to screen in theaters so that people can gradually get to see it after hearing word-of-mouth reviews. We also planned out screenings in theaters with special effects such as IMAX, Dolby Atmos, 4D and Screen X formats.”
It helped that the theater industry agreed to fully support the distributors of the two big-budget films for the summer —“Mogadishu” and “Sinkhole” — by not taking any of the revenue from ticket sales until the distributors had recovered 50 percent of the production costs. They came to this agreement under the condition that the films would be released during the summer. Prior to the pandemic, the norm has been that theaters and film distributors divide ticket sales in half.
The screenplay for “Mogadishu” was originally created by another production company Dexter Studio in 2013 and was set to be directed by filmmaker Kim Yong-hwa. (Kim broke away from Dexter Studio last year to establish his own production company Blaad Studio.) As he became immersed in another film, “Along with the Gods” series (2017-18), he offered the script to Ryoo.
“Ryoo has plenty of directing experience on various kinds of topics in commercial films, and I thought he was the best man for the job as he already has experience telling the narrative of North and South Koreans through his prior film ‘The Berlin File’ ,” said Dexter Studio’s CEO Kang Jong-ik.
“I knew that the actual event was very dramatic, and as I dug deeper into my research I found out that Dexter Studio was already working on a screenplay and dropped it,” Kang said. “By coincidence, filmmaker Kim gave us the screenplay […] The original screenplay was more steered toward humanism, and Ryoo asked Kim if he could bring the focus to his area of expertise, spectacles. Kim gave his consent, and so we immediately started on this project.”
Somalia still remains off-limits to travelers due to the ongoing war. Kang told the press that it wasn’t easy to recreate a city from 30 years ago that her staff have never been to. The preparation to shoot overseas was meticulously pre-planned by the local production team and location manager Mohamed Benhmammane who was behind Hollywood films such as “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015) and “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007).
“The critical factor behind our success lies in our Korean staff,” Kang said. “Every day was a battle between the mentality of ‘Can we do this? Or can we not?’ The art team especially put effort into recreating the architecture and even the geography of Somalia back then only relying on past records.”
According to Kang, the advance party of staff was dispatched three times earlier than that of “The Berlin File,” which was six months ahead of the shooting. As there is no direct flight to Morocco, it took them some 30 hours. The volume of cargo was three to five times larger than the average film, too. From the food to special props, Korean furniture placed inside the embassy, guns, gun powder and detonators exported from Hong Kong and the U.S., every prop was transported to Morocco and set up the city. Since the staff in Morocco and foreign actors were all from culturally diverse backgrounds, the set was always buzzing with people speaking diverse languages such as Korean, Arabic, French, Spanish and Italian.
“In the back of my mind, I, too, had doubts [about the set]. Could this really work?” Kang said. “There was only 10 days left for shooting when Morocco heard about the coronavirus. There were some unfriendly stares or people calling out menacingly, ‘Asia go home.’ Two of our staff who stayed behind to wrap up the set were trapped in the airport for 30 hours and had to take a detour to get home due to a shutdown.”
The success of the film is not limited to within Korea. Earlier this month, Lotte Entertainment reported that the film’s distribution rights have been sold to 50 countries, a considerable feat as the global film market is still reeling from the pandemic.
“I think people are much more conservative when it comes to stories about North and South Korea,” Kang said, when asked how she was feeling about the response in local theaters. “There were many of those who saw the film politically […] We also saw positive reviews such as that we did not overly dramatize the narrative, making it more realistic [for the audience].
“When we showed our edits to a producer in Hollywood, he asked us how we were able to shoot all of this in 76 days. In Hollywood, it would have cost them at least 100 billion won but when we told him that the total production cost was 25 billion including the cost for promoting the film, he said, ‘I cannot believe it.’ ‘Mogadishu’ showed the world the exceptional ability and talent of our Korean staff.”
Exclusive ‘Free Guy’ Clip Takes a Look at Taika Waititi’s Improvisational Skills on Set
Ahead of Free Guy’s release on digital on September 28th, and 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray on October 12th, Collider has an exclusive clip showcasing Taika Waititi’s incredible riffing abilities on set.
The video begins with Jodie Comer, who plays Millie/Molotovgirl in Free Guy Movies Online saying of Waititi, “I literally came to set on days that I wasn’t in to watch his scenes. Because what that guy does is, like, insane.” The video then displays the impressive improvisational skills of Waititi as the character of Antwan, the head developer at Soonami Games, who have made the game at the center of Free Guy.
In the video, Waititi talks about how important the screenplay is to him as an actor, and points out how even though he might be going off script, what is on the page certainly influences where he goes in these riffs. Waititi certainly knows the importance of the screenplay, having won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film Jojo Rabbit. But this clip presents just how great Waititi is when director Shawn Levy let him loose while on the set of the Soonami Games studios.