Shang-Chi has bested another Marvel hero on the box-office battlefield.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now the highest-grossing movie of the COVID era in North America, surpassing the $183.4 million earned by Black Widow. Shang-Chi took in $3.59 million on Friday for a domestic total of $186.7 million, the best domestic gross for a movie since the pandemic began.

The Marvel blockbuster, starring Simu Liu as the eponymous hero, is expected to top the box office for the fourth straight weekend, with analysts predicting a three-day total between $12 million and $15 million. Last week, the film grossed $21.7 million, a strong holdover after a summer movie season marked by the Delta variant surge and precipitous week-to-week drops at the box office. It's poised become the first movie to surpass $200 million domestically since the start of the pandemic.

Simu Liu in 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings'
| Credit: Jasin Boland/©Marvel Studios 2021

Indeed, Shang-Chi, which was released Sept. 3 exclusively in movie theaters, has almost single-handedly helped restore confidence in the big screen following a turbulent summer. After the film's opening-weekend gross broke the record for the best Labor Day weekend performance ever, Disney announced that its remaining 2021 movies would all have exclusively theatrical releases. (For most of the year, the studio had released its major tentpoles, including Black Widow, on Disney+ and in theaters at the same time.) Sony also moved up the release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which is expected to dethrone Shang-Chi at the box office next weekend.

Worldwide, Shang-Chi ranks as the sixth highest-grossing movie of 2021, behind Black Widow's $378 million global total with about $330 million. The Marvel superspy thriller starring Scarlett Johansson opened strongly in July, but was ultimately viewed as a disappointment, holding the no. 1 spot at the box office for just one week and posting steep drop-offs thereafter. Johansson is suing Disney over their decision to release the film on Disney+, arguing that the strategy violated her contract and harmed the film's box-office performance. Disney has said that the actress's lawsuit has "no merit whatsoever."

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