Shang Chi’s Worst Enemy May Be Simu Liu’s Mouth


Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings remained at the top of the box office, taking the top spot for a third weekend in a row. It’s $21.7 million is the second-best third weekend result for a September release after Warner Bros’ It which came in at $29.75 million pre-pandemic.


According to Box Office Mojo, the film had totaled around $176 million by the end of day Sunday putting it just behind the $183.2 million domestic Black Widow made, which will likely surpassed during this upcoming week. The film is maintaining a -37% hold from the previous weekend. Combine that with the international numbers and the film has topped $288 million world-wide. Not a bad three weeks for a new franchise with no big-name domestic stars.



It’s somewhat surprising that it didn’t top Black Widow, given all the haranguing the theater chains made about streaming day and date, which they felt suppressed the Johansson outing. With Shang Chi, Disney opted NOT to start streaming the film yet. Did streaming really affect Black Widow’s numbers or not?


“It might seem deceptively simple, and also mind-bogglingly complicated, but I think the secret is making really good movies that people really like, and want to see,” Shang-Chi producer Jonathan Schwartz said about hitting with the latest Marvel blockbuster. “I mean, it all starts with leaving it all on the table for every movie, every time. No great ideas get left behind, and we don’t save anything for the sequel.” 



Still, without a Chinese box office those box office numbers won’t climb much further. And that looks farther away than ever as the Communist country draws closer to a total ban on the Simi Liu movie. Because Shang-Chi is the first mainstream Asian superhero from Marvel and Disney, it was a foregone conclusion that his arrival would attract even more moviegoers than normal, given Marvel Studios’ increasing popularity in China. But maybe that was before a deep dive into the contrary actor’s past remarks.


According to a recent Variety story, Chinese officials are preparing to permanently ban Shang-Chi owing to remarks made by the film’s lead Liu dating back to 2017. The Canadian actor was born in China and lived there until he was five years old, although he has spoken about the kinds of tales his parents told him as a child, such as about the Great Chinese Famine. So it’s no surprise that the Communist Party is furious.



But the controversy from Simu Liu goes beyond simply his previous support for Hong Kong protesters or the fact that the Mandarin, like most Shang-Chi’s cast, is not a native Mandarin speaker, even superstar Tony Leung falls into this category. But Simi Liu’s own comments about other controversial subjects aren’t helping his case either.


First he lashed out with mockery at online commenters and critics who felt the film was going to be a lesser performer in the MCU. Given that, technically, it was, his responses the week after the debut were… less than cordial.



But allegedly the actor compared pedophilia to homosexuality in a now deleted thread from 2017, causing the internet, and likely Disney’s PR department, to meltdown.



After the posts were unearthed, the actor didn’t exactly deny his comments. Rather, he seemed to defend them.



More here.


Given that Eternals is also likely to be banned in China owing to filmmaker Chloe Zhao’s critical remarks about Chinese politics, Kevin Feige may have to accept the loss on Shang-Chi, China, and the hundreds of millions that might have been. Meanwhile, Dune and No Time to Die both just secured “lucrative” Chinese release dates.


Jamison Ashley

Comic geek, movie nerd, father, and husband - but not necessarily in that order. Current captain of this ship o' fools who is rapidly training everyone's computers and snarkphone spell-checkers to misspell 'supposebly.'