‘Halloween Kills’ smashed box-office expectations despite also streaming on Peacock and it shows the strength of the horror genre

Michael Myers is back in "Halloween Kills."
Michael Myers is back in “Halloween Kills.”

  • “Halloween Kills” topped the domestic box office over the weekend with $50 million.
  • It cost just $20 million to produce.
  • Horror movies have been resilient during the pandemic, from “A Quiet Place Part II” to “Candyman.”

“Halloween Kills,” the sequel to the 2018 “Halloween” franchise revival, exceeded expectations at the US box office over the weekend, showing once more that the horror genre is thriving during the pandemic.

The movie earned $50 million in its domestic debut while also streaming simultaneously on NBCUniversal’s Peacock service. It’s below the $76 million opening weekend of its predecessor, but an impressive total considering the pandemic, it’s availability on streaming, and its poor reviews. It has a 39% Rotten Tomatoes critic score while 2018’s “Halloween” received a more positive 79%.

2018’s “Halloween” ultimately grossed $159 million in the US and $255 million worldwide.

“That’s hard to match, but this is an outstanding start anyway, under any conditions,” Hollywood consultant David A. Gross said. “The horror genre is alive and well.”

“Halloween Kills” will face competition in its second weekend as Warner Bros.’ “Dune” hits theaters (and HBO Max) and piracy could be an issue. It was No. 3 on piracy news website Torrent Freak’s weekly list of most pirated movies on Monday, likely due to it being available to stream.

“When a movie is released simultaneously to a streaming service, a pristine copy of that movie is made available day one that it’s in cinemas,” John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, told Insider during a recent interview.

But the movie is already a win for the distributor Universal and production company Blumhouse. It was made for a small sum of $20 million and it’s the best domestic opening of the pandemic for a horror movie, topping “A Quiet Place Part II’s” $47.5 million.

Horror has been a resilient genre during the pandemic, and Universal in particular has capitalized with not only “Halloween Kills” but “Candyman” and “Old,” as well. Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” and Warner Bros.’ “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” also topped the box office this year.

“Filmmakers like Jordan Peele, the Blumhouse roster of talent, and others have helped the horror genre gain a new level of respect, box-office revenue potential, and enduring audience appeal,” Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, recently told Insider.

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Hollywood IATSE union closes tentative deal with studios to avert industry-wide strike

film set crew
Crew on the New York City set of “And Just Like That…” the follow-up series to “Sex and the City” in September.

  • Hollywood’s crew members’ union reached a tentative deal with the studios late Saturday.
  • The deal secured many IATSE demands, including longer rest periods and higher wages.
  • Terms of the deal need to be ratified by IATSE members before Sunday to avoid a strike on Monday.

Negotiators for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) settled on a deal on Saturday to avert a potential industry-crippling workers’ strike.

“Everything achieved was because you, the members, stood up and gave us the power to change the course of these negotiations,” leaders of Hollywood’s 13 local unions said in a statement to their members. “Our solidarity, at both the leadership and rank and file level, was the primary reason that no local was left behind and every priority was addressed.”

“This is a Hollywood ending,” said IATSE International President Matthew Loeb. “Our members stood firm. They’re tough and united.”

The proposed three-year contract, which would affect 40,000 union members, included the following:

• Living wage achieved
• Improved wages and working conditions for streaming
• Retroactive scale wage increases of 3% annually
• Employer-funded benefits for the term
• Increased meal period penalties including prevailing rate
• Daily reest periods of 10 hours without exclusions
• Weekend rest periods of 54 and 32 hours
• Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday as a holiday
• Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives

The individual locals will be updating members on more specifics in the coming days, IATSE added.

The unions entered 11th-hour virtual marathon meetings late on Friday, according to Variety, with AMPTP President Carol Lombardini addressing details surrounding problematic working conditions in the industry. Lombardini and Loeb came to an agreement on multiple fronts, understanding the repercussions a crew member strike would have on the industry as it recovers from COVID-19 shutdowns.

Industry sources also told Variety that Walt Disney Television chief Peter Rice was among those present at the meeting who helped bridge the gap between the two parties.

IATSE union members have pushed for longer rest breaks as well as higher wages for lower-paid crafts, after multiple accounts of dangerous working conditions spread via social media, sparking support from the industry’s actors, directors, and writers, among others.

Saturday’s agreement was met with cautious optimism from the industry and IATSE union members, with many praising the efforts of the union over the past weeks, and others saying they expected more from the negotiations.

“Just confirmed with an IATSE member that they received an email from their Local that a deal has been made!” wrote #PayUpHollywood co-founder Liz Hsiao Lan Alper in a tweet. “IATSE members, I hope like hell you [got] much of what you deserve.”

“I’m excited if IATSE members are excited,” actress Yvette Nicole Brown tweeted. “This is their new contract potentially. They get to decide if what’s being offered is what they need to feel safe, well-paid and respected.”

“Good for IATSE for standing your ground,” tweeted actor Patton Oswalt. “And don’t forget we got your back anytime you need us #IASolidarity.”

“I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it, to be honest,” Matt Schouten, a digital imaging technician in IATSE’s local 600, told Insider. “At least preliminarily, some of the things that they’re mentioning – it seems pretty basic. I think a lot of members were expecting to get more out of the negotiation … I know already there’s a few people that have expressed concern, but it’s good to see that they’re making progress.”

Capturing some of that concern was a tweet from Franklin Leonard, the founder of the Black List and a prominent voice for equity in Hollywood. After tweeting about the deal, he added, “Fascinating that leadership is hanging a mission accomplished banner and so many members have jumped in my mentions to assert that they are not a fan of this deal. Genuinely curious how representative of the rank and file they are.”

Many comments on the @IA_stories Instagram account, where crew members have shared tales of difficult working conditions, were skeptical or critical of the agreement outlined Saturday night.

Ninety-eight percent of IATSE members voted to authorize a strike in October. The IATSE and AMPTP resumed bargaining negotiations last week after the Loeb announced the former would go on strike unless the parties could reach a deal by the weekend. Negotiations have gone on since July, with the threat of an impending strike hanging overhead.

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A Hollywood union president said its 60,000 workers will strike on Monday without a deal for improved working conditions

iatse strike rally
Mike Miller, vice president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) speaks to members at a rally on on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021.

  • IATSE said more than 60,000 entertainment workers will strike next week if negotiations aren’t final.
  • Negotiations between crew members and studios have been at an impasse for several months.
  • A strike could halt a range of TV and film projects – disrupting an industry already impacted by COVID.

The ongoing battle between Hollywood workers and the major studios is at a boiling point, and it may be about to spill over on the entire entertainment industry next week.

More than 60,000 film and television workers in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), a crew members’ union in Hollywood, are on the brink of an industrywide strike. IATSE President Matthew Loeb tweeted on Wednesday that he intends to formally initiate a strike on Monday unless an agreement is reached between IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

“We will continue bargaining with the producers this week in the hopes of reaching an agreement that addresses core issues, such as reasonable rest periods, meal breaks, and a living wage for those on the bottom of the wage scale,” Loeb said in the tweet.

“However, the current pace of bargaining doesn’t reflect any sense of urgency. Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. IATSE film and TV workers deserve to have their basic needs addressed NOW,” Loeb continued.

Union members have pushed for improved working conditions, like longer rest breaks and wage increases for lower-paid crafts. Many personal accounts from union members’ difficult working experiences have been pouring out on social media, reining in support from other major entertainment unions including SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America, and the Writers Guild of America, as well as notable figures in the industry.

Earlier this month, IATSE members voted to authorize a strike, with over 98% of members voting in favor for a strike. The union and producers resumed bargaining negotiations on Wednesday, according to Deadline, marking eight days since the strike authorization. The unions have been locked in multiple negotiations since July, but parties have repeatedly failed to reach a consensus on a deal.

“Despite our best efforts at the table, the pace of negotiations does not reflect the urgency of the situation,” Cathy Repola, national executive director of the Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700, said in a message to her members on Tuesday. “In the wake of the overwhelming strike authorization vote, the employers repeatedly refuse to do what it will take to achieve a fair deal. Either they don’t recognize what has changed in our industry and among our members or they don’t care. Or both.”

The strike is expected to have major implications on the entertainment industry, creating a labor shortage that could affect everything from live television shows to streaming hits to feature films. Studios are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to disrupt production schedules and theatrical releases.

If the action goes forward on Monday, it will be only the second crew member strike in Hollywood history.

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A Hollywood workers’ union is preparing to strike, and some of your favorite TV shows and movies could be delayed

crew workers on set
  • An IATSE strike could force projects across TV and film to stop production, resulting in scheduling delays and a lack of content.
  • Productions can try to work around strike limitations, hiring non-union labor or outsourcing productions abroad.
  • IATSE demanded studios and production companies address an ongoing an unhealthy working environment.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Members of a Hollywood crew workers’ union is preparing to go on a strike to demand better wages and working conditions. If they do, it could thin out your Netflix queue a few months from now.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees’ (IATSE) contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers hit a standstill last week. The union is voting on whether to authorize a strike from October 1-3. If the strike commences, 60,000 primarily middle and low income earning crew members – from set designing, to costuming, camera operating, and post-production editing – could walk off the job and bring work your favorite TV shows and movies to a grinding halt.

“[A strike] could affect the general public in that they may not have as much content to view in the future,” said entertainment union lawyer Alan Brunswick. “It could slow down production of motion pictures and television shows, and that includes shows that will be on digital services like Amazon or Netflix.”

The strike would have a rolling effect on productions coast-to-coast, impacting smaller-scale projects in the short term, like live shows and daytime soaps, an industry expert told Insider. As more time goes on, the effects can cascade into bigger budget projects, like streaming and feature films, especially those in the middle of shooting or post-production.

This would hit shows from Saturday Night Live and the Tonight Show, to Stranger Things 4 and The Crown, and even the upcoming slate of Marvel Studios projects.

Cable programming on HBO, Showtime, and Starz, which operate under a separate “paid television” contract that hasn’t expired yet, as well as reality shows and promotional work, will not be affected, Brunswick added.

“I have clients that have television series, digital series, and motion pictures that are either already in production or are scheduled to go into production and they’re definitely going to be impacted,” said entertainment labor attorney Ivy Kagan-Bierman.

Production companies and studios have started drafting plants to work around the strike, but their efforts may also change the fabric of the entertainment industry.

“Productions could leave the United States and go to Canada and other places around the world, which again, really affects our economy,” according to Bierman, which might bolster foreign production markets and content. “That being said, there definitely will be many productions that are not able to relocate outside the United States that either will get shut down or will delay their start dates.”

Some productions could try to hire the smaller pool of non-union crew members, Bierman said. But networks like NBC, ABC, and CBS might need to reach into their vast libraries of syndicated or licensed content to show reruns or air reality programming that can fill gaps in the television schedule left by union-worked shows.

IATSE entered negotiations with studios after the prior contract expired at the end of July. Discussions reached an impasse in late September over two contracts that did not meet IATSE’s demands, including improved workplace conditions, such as adequate sleep, meal breaks, and improved wages.

The standstill marks the biggest tension in Hollywood since the 2007-2008 writers’ strike, which ceased production for 100 days.

“These issues are real for the workers in our industry, and change is long overdue,” IATSE said in a statement calling for the strike. “However, the explosion of streaming combined with the pandemic has elevated and aggravated working conditions, bringing 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers covered by these contracts to a breaking point.”

If the strike authorization passes on Sunday, it will be up to IATSE leadership to officially call for a strike.

If you’re a crew member in the television or movie industry with a story to share about unsafe working conditions on set, you can get in touch with this reporter at .

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The 11 most anticipated movies premiering in October, from ‘Dune’ to ‘Halloween Kills’

A picture of Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in "Dune."
Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in “Dune.”

  • Every month, the app TV Time provides Insider a list of the most anticipated new movies being released, based on the movies its US users have indicated they intend to watch.
  • Warner Bros.’ “Dune,” which will debut in theaters and on HBO Max, topped this month’s list.
  • October also includes the release of other long-delayed movies like “No Time to Die” and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
11. “Army of Thieves” – on Netflix October 29

army of thieves

Description: “In this prequel to ‘Army of the Dead,’ a mysterious woman recruits bank teller Dieter to help her crew crack three legendary safes across Europe.”

10. “Antlers” – in theaters October 29

antlers

Description: “A small-town Oregon teacher (Keri Russell) and her brother (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, discover that a young student (Jeremy T. Thomas) is harboring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences.”

9. “The French Dispatch” – in theaters October 22

The French Dispatch
“The French Dispatch” was directed by Wes Anderson.

Description: “THE FRENCH DISPATCH brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city.”

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 83%

What critics said: “The richness of its world-building is a delight, as ever, but the heart that elevated Moonrise Kingdom is not in such ready evidence here, nor the sharp wit and effervescent storytelling of The Grand Budapest Hotel.” — Time Out

8. “Last Night in Soho” – in theaters October 29

Last Night in Soho Focus Features
Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith in “Last Night in Soho.”

Description: “In acclaimed director Edgar Wright’s psychological thriller, Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer, Sandie. But the glamour is not all it appears to be and the dreams of the past start to crack and splinter into something far darker.”

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 69%

What critics said: “Perhaps the film’s thematic intentions are noble. But its execution is glib, never finding the right balance between compassion and leering.” — Vanity Fair

7. “The Last Duel” – in theaters October 15

Ben Affleck in The Last Duel

Description: “The Last Duel is a gripping tale of betrayal and vengeance set against the brutality of 14th century France, directed by visionary filmmaker and four-time Academy Award nominee Ridley Scott.” 

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 67%

What critics said: “Despite a brief action interlude here or there, ‘The Last Duel’ turns out to be a lavishly convoluted and, at times, rather interesting medieval soap opera.” — Variety

6. “Halloween Kills” – in theaters and on Peacock October 15

halloween kills
“Halloween Kills.”

Description: “The Strode women join a group of other survivors of Michael’s first rampage who decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a vigilante mob that sets out to hunt Michael down, once and for all.”

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 59%

What critics said: “This latest installment is like a latex ghoul mask so stretched and shapeless it no longer fits.” — Hollywood Reporter

5. “The Guilty” – on Netflix October 1

Jake Gyllenhaal in a black shirt
Jake Gyllenhaal in “The Guilty.”

Description: “A troubled police detective demoted to 911 operator duty scrambles to save a distressed caller during a harrowing day of revelations — and reckonings.”

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 71%

What critics said: “For its eventual lurid machinations and hyped-up emotionalism, the film winds up being a handsomely efficient one-man show.” — Washington Post

4. “The Many Saints of Newark” – in theaters and on HBO Max October 1

Michael Gandolfini and Alessandro Nivola in "The Many Saints of Newark."
Michael Gandolfini and Alessandro Nivola in “The Many Saints of Newark.”

Description: “Young Anthony Soprano is growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark’s history, becoming a man just as rival gangsters begin to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family’s hold over the increasingly race-torn city. Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti, who struggles to manage both his professional and personal responsibilities—and whose influence over his nephew will help make the impressionable teenager into the all-powerful mob boss we’ll later come to know: Tony Soprano.”

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 73%

What critics said: “A movie that is fascinating to study and consider, but not nearly as good as the television series that made us wish for this movie to exist.” — Vulture

3. “No Time to Die” – in theaters October 8

No Time to Die UA

Description: “Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.”

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 83%

What critics said: “The new installment is exciting for its energy and scale, despite its flaws and derivative themes, and makes a lovely valediction for its star.” — Wall Street Journal

2. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” – in theaters October 1

Tom Hardy looking at Venom
Tom Hardy in “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”

Description: “Tom Hardy returns to the big screen as the lethal protector Venom, one of Marvel’s greatest and most complex characters.”

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 59%

What critics said: “The viewing experience is like going to a nightclub and having someone scream the plot in your ear over a thumping bass line — ironic, given that Venom’s biggest weakness is sound waves.” — The Atlantic

1. “Dune” – in theaters and on HBO Max October 22

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in a still from the upcoming movie "Dune."
Timothée Chalamet in “Dune.”

Description: “A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, ‘Dune’ tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential — only those who can conquer their fear will survive.”

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

What critics said: “Villeneuve’s Dune takes a bit of time to set up the necessary palace intrigue and family dynamics before finding its shape as a relentless, propulsive chase movie.” — The Ringer

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Hollywood workers: Tell us what you earn and how you budget as Insider reports on workplace culture in the entertainment industry

movie set
  • Insider is assembling salary diaries that reveal the challenges Hollywood workers face in making ends meet.
  • Income inequality and workplace fairness are concerns in entertainment, and we want to hear from you.
  • Respondents will be kept anonymous, due to the sensitive nature of the topic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The entertainment industry has a reputation for glitz and glamour, but the star-studded movies that make it to the big screen are built on the backs of thousands of crew members, support staffers, pre- and post-production workers who toil away – often for a fraction of the paycheck of the A-listers headlining a project.

And for every TV showrunner or movie star, there are legions of actors and writers and directors who grind for years in the hopes of getting their big break.

Movements like #PayUpHollywood and #IALivingWage have shone a light on the community of assistants and IATSE members, respectively, who often live paycheck to paycheck in expensive cities like Los Angeles and New York. And as Insider has reported, the COVID-19 pandemic of the past 18 months is leaving many workers wondering if they are a “lost generation” of future showrunners and execs whose careers may remain stalled indefinitely.

The pandemic has additionally compounded the usual work stresses for young Gen Z and millennial staffers in Hollywood, prompting some to reevaluate the way they view work in relation to their mental health.

In examining workplace issues and income inequality in Hollywood, Insider’s Los Angeles bureau wants to hear from you, whether you’re a writer, producer, actor, director, assistant, agent, composer, gaffer, makeup artist, studio exec, or an assistant or apprentice to any of the above.

We’re putting together salary diaries that reveal the challenges Hollywood dreamers and strivers face in making ends meet, including the money hacks and occasional perks that help along the way. For a look at what an Insider salary diary highlights, check out our DC bureau’s coverage of congressional staffer pay on Capitol Hill.

What we’re looking for: A salary diary that breaks down your income and monthly expenses, in addition to your thoughts on pay satisfaction and your career trajectory in the entertainment industry so far.

Email us at elow@insider.com with the subject line “Hollywood Salary Diary” if you’re interested in participating. We’ll contact you from there to send you a template so you can start tracking your salary and budget. We’d like to learn more about how much you pay for rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, professional clothes, student loans, work events, and more.

Due to the sensitivity of the matter, Insider will not disclose your name, employer, or other identifying information in our coverage. We will ask for documentation of certain items during the fact-checking process, but will never publish or disclose those documents without your explicit permission.

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‘Shang-Chi’ will be available to stream on Disney+ November 12

shang-chi
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

  • “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will be available to stream on Disney+ on November 12.
  • It’s part of “Disney+ Day,” which marks the two-year anniversary of the service launching.
  • “Shang-Chi” has been a box-office hit after debuting exclusively in theaters with a 45-day window.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will be available to stream on Disney+ on November 12, more than two months after its theatrical release. It will make its streaming premiere as part of “Disney+ Day,” marking the two-year anniversary of when the service launched.

There won’t be a video-on-demand release between the 45-day window and its streaming premiere. The movie will be available on VOD platforms the same day it hits Disney+.

The hit Marvel Cinematic Universe movie debuted September 3 exclusively to theaters with a 45-day window. Though Disney said it would be exclusive to theaters for at least 45 days, it hadn’t specified when it would premiere on Disney+.

“Shang-Chi” has been a box-office hit with $177 million in the US and $305 million worldwide. That doesn’t include the biggest theatrical market, China, where it has yet to be approved for release by the government.

It will likely surpass “Black Widow’s” domestic gross of $183 million this week, which would make it the highest-grossing movie in the US so far this year.

The movie’s success prompted Disney to announce that its remaining 2021 movies would be released exclusively to theaters with 45-day or 30-day windows.

“Black Widow” was released simultaneously to theaters and Disney+ for an additional $30 fee, which theater owners said hindered the movie’s box office.

“We believe that simultaneous release cannibalizes ticket sales in favor of streaming-service viewership, or sales if it’s a premium offering,” John Fithian, the CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, told Insider in a recent interview.

He added: “The bigger problem, though, is piracy … When a movie is released simultaneously to a streaming service, a pristine copy of that movie is made available day one that it’s in cinemas.”

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How ‘Shang-Chi’ vindicated theater owners after their criticism of Disney’s ‘Black Widow’ release strategy

Xialing, Shang-Chi, and Katy in Shang-Chi
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

  • Disney plans to release its remaining movies this year exclusively to theaters.
  • The move comes after the success of “Shang-Chi,” a box-office hit and theatrical exclusive.
  • Theater owners had expressed displeasure with Disney’s “Black Widow” Disney+ strategy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Theater owners wanted Disney to commit to movie theaters. They got their wish.

After the success of the studio’s latest Marvel movie, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Disney announced on Friday that the rest of its 2021 slate would receive exclusive theatrical releases with shortened windows.

The slate includes another Marvel movie, “Eternals,” and Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” remake, which will receive 45-day theatrical windows – the same as “Shang-Chi.” The animated film “Encanto” will have a 30-day window before heading to Disney+.

Before the pandemic, exclusive theatrical windows would typically be between 75 days and 90 days. But most of the major studios have negotiated with exhibitors to shorten that time frame during the pandemic. Disney’s plans beyond “Shang-Chi,” though, were a mystery – until now.

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), the largest theater trade group, had been waiting for this moment.

After “Black Widow” declined a sharp 68% at the domestic box office in its second weekend, NATO released a critical statement calling simultaneous release a “pandemic-era artifact that should be left to history with the pandemic itself.” Disney released the movie simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ for an extra $30 fee.

NATO CEO John Fithian told Insider in a recent interview that there were still “several big remaining questions” regarding some studios release plans for the remainder of the year and heading into 2022, alluding that the group wanted answers from Disney.

Movie theaters can probably thank “Shang-Chi” for Disney finally landing on a concrete strategy for the remainder of its 2021 movies. The movie earned $75 million in its opening three-day weekend and a record $94 million over the four-day Labor Day weekend. It’s since made $145 million domestically and $256 million worldwide. That doesn’t even include China, the world’s biggest theatrical market, where it hasn’t been approved for release.

In Fithian’s interview with Insider, he predicted that “Shang-Chi” wouldn’t have as big of a drop in its second domestic weekend as “Black Widow” because it wasn’t available to stream. He was right. “Shang-Chi” earned $34.7 million over the weekend, a 54% drop from its first three days in theaters and a smaller decline than most major blockbusters released this year.

While the “Shang-Chi” box office may have pushed Disney to go all in on exclusive theatrical windows for the rest of the year, it did find another source of revenue with the “Black Widow” release. Disney didn’t announce its total Disney+ haul, but did say it earned $60 million from streaming purchases in its first weekend.

But Scarlett Johansson is also suing Disney over the “Black Widow” release, claiming that the company breached her contract by not giving the movie an exclusive theatrical run, which could have contributed to Disney’s strategy shift.

“Shang-Chi’s” success came on the heels of another well-performing Disney release, “Free Guy,” which was also exclusive to theaters. The movie has made $101 million domestically so far and $276 million worldwide.

“Shang-Chi” has received heaps of praise from critics and audiences, which could have boosted word of mouth for its second weekend. It has a 92% Rotten Tomatoes critic score and a 98% audience score, as well as an A grade from CinemaScore, which surveys audiences on a movie’s opening night.

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Christopher Nolan will make his next movie with Universal after falling out with Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan "Tenet" Set
Christopher Nolan with John David Washington on the set of “Tenet.”

  • Universal has landed Christopher Nolan’s next movie.
  • Warner Bros. has been involved with all of Nolan’s films for nearly two decades, until now.
  • Nolan was critical of Warner Bros.’ decision to release its movies this year to theaters and HBO Max simultaneously.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan is ending his nearly 20-year partnership with Warner Bros.

Universal will finance and release the “Tenet” director’s next film, Universal confirmed to Insider on Tuesday. Deadline was the first to report the news. The movie will be about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the making of the atom bomb. It will have a $100 million production budget, according to Variety.

Warner Bros. has been involved in some capacity with all of Nolan’s films since 2002’s “Insomnia,” including last year’s “Tenet.” But Nolan was critical of parent company WarnerMedia’s decision to release all of its 2021 films simultaneously in theaters and on the streaming service HBO Max.

“Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

Speculation has swirled since then that Nolan, who is a vocal supporter of movie theaters, would take his next film to another studio.

Netflix even threw its hat in the ring. The company’s film chief Scott Stuber told Variety that the streaming giant had been having conversations with Nolan to land his next movie.

“If and when he comes up with his new movie, it’s about: Can we be a home for it, and what would we need to do to make that happen,” Stuber said. “He’s an incredible filmmaker. I’m going to do everything I can. In this business, I’ve learned you need to have zero ego. I get punched and knocked down and get back up.”

Netflix has attracted other high-profile filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee, and has shown its willing to give movies exclusive theatrical releases before they are available to stream.

But Universal, which has been committed to shortened but exclusive theatrical windows during the pandemic – save for a few key releases such as the upcoming “Halloween Kills” – won out in the end.

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Why Marvel’s ‘Shang-Chi’ may not be released in China and what it means for Hollywood’s future

shang-chi
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

  • Disney’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” may not get a China release date.
  • It could signal that fewer Hollywood movies will be approved in the country in the future.
  • China is now the world’s biggest theatrical market, driven largely by local films during the pandemic.
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Disney’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is a box-office hit after opening with $94 million over the four-day Labor Day weekend.

But the movie, which is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe entry headlined by an Asian character, still doesn’t have a release date in the world’s largest theatrical market: China, where foreign releases must be approved by the local government.

Deadline reported on Friday that a date may be out of reach after 2017 comments made by star Simu Liu resurfaced this week on Chinese social media, in which Liu called China a “third world” country.

The movie had already faced controversy over the title character’s comic-book history. When first introduced in 1973, Shang-Chi’s father was Fu Manchu, a character now considered to have perpetuated racist Asian stereotypes. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has addressed Shang-Chi’s comic history, which has been rewritten multiple times over the years.

“Definitively, Fu Manchu is not in this movie, is not Shang-Chi’s father, and again, is not even a Marvel character, and hasn’t been for decades,” Feige told Variety last month.

But beyond any concerns about the movie itself, “Shang-Chi’s” China release, or lack thereof, reflects the country’s media crackdown and the changing nature of its relationship with Hollywood, which has relied on the China box office to boost big-budget tentpoles.

Disney did not return a request for comment for this story.

China’s crackdown is hurting Disney

Aynne Kokas, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia and the author of the book “Hollywood Made in China,” told Insider that the “Shang-Chi” controversy is happening “in parallel with widespread tightening” of China media and its film market.

The country’s regulations have particularly impacted Disney over the past year.

“Mulan” faced calls from outside China for a boycott because parts of the movie were filmed in Xinjiang, where officials have been implicated in human-rights violations against Muslim Uighurs. Following the foreign criticism, China ordered a media blackout of “Mulan” ahead of its release in the region. It ended up flopping with just $40 million over its entire theatrical run there.

A line of 10 superheroes stands looking forward in Marvel's "Eternals"
Marvel’s “Eternals” is set for release in November 2021, starring Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, and more notable actors.

A China release for Disney’s next Marvel movie, “Eternals,” is also uncertain. The movie’s director Chloé Zhao, who was born in China, has faced backlash from Chinese nationalists over a 2013 interview in which she said “there are lies everywhere” in China. Chinese censors blocked mentions of her Oscar win on social media earlier this year after she won best director and her film “Nomadland” won best picture.

“I would be surprised if ‘Eternals’ got released in China,” Kokas said. “The controversy has gotten a lot of attention and has been a rallying cry for Chinese netizens.”

It could be a major loss for Disney, as Marvel films have performed well in China. “Avengers: Endgame” is the country’s highest grossing foreign film with $614 million.

“‘Shang-Chi’s’ global performance would benefit immensely from a release in China, both because of the clear cultural appeal and the fact that Marvel movies are usually top tier box-office performers in the Middle Kingdom,” said Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst.

Local movies are dominating China’s box office

Since the release of “Endgame,” China has passed the US as the biggest theatrical market in the world, due largely to how China’s cinemas have rebounded during the coronavirus pandemic while the US’s theatrical industry has struggled.

The rebound has been driven by Chinese films like “Hi, Mom” and “Detective Chinatown 3,” which were released this year and quickly cracked the top five of China’s biggest movies ever.

Only two Hollywood releases are currently in the top 10 highest grossing movies at the China box office this year: “F9” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

More and more local productions are accounting for China’s box office.

“There are Chinese blockbusters that Chinese filmmakers are making that people want to watch, and they feel less derivative than those made in Hollywood,” Kokas said.

China has a 34-film quota on the number of foreign films released in the country per year on a revenue-sharing basis.

But Kokas predicted that fewer Hollywood titles will be approved in China in the coming years. Those that are approved will face a “much tighter regulatory environment,” she said.

Robbins is more bullish about the future of Hollywood and China’s relationship, though.

“China has an excellent catalog of locally produced content to drive theatrical business, but there’s no doubt that Hollywood releases have also proven important to the market’s overall box office year in and year out,” he said.

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