‘Dear Evan Hansen’ debut gets clobbered by ‘Shang-Chi’ in its fourth week at the North American box-office

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Latest Marvel Studios film beats Tony-winning musical adaptation by a wide margin

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“Dear Evan Hansen” may have been a hit on Broadway, but the filmed adaptation of the Tony-winning show is off to a slow start at the box office on its first weekend in theaters. Universal Musical, which is playing exclusively in theaters, grossed an estimated $7.5 million from 3,364 locations, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

First place again went to Disney and Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, which added $13.3 million in ticket sales in North America, bringing its domestic total to $196.5 million. The superhero picture has topped the charts for four consecutive weekends and this weekend surpassed “Black Widow” to become the pandemic’s highest domestic earner.

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On the way to high-profile competition this weekend, “Dear Evan Hansen”‘s $7.3 million was enough to make it to second place. Although critics were less impressed, the audience that turned up this weekend were fans and gave it an A-Cinemascore. According to exit polls, women constituted 62 per cent of the audience. Directed by Stephen Chbosky and written by Steven Levenson, “Dear Evan Hansen” is about a high school student with social anxiety disorder.

“We’re very proud of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and everything about it,” said Universal’s head of distribution, Jim Orr. “With an exceptional film and a stellar audience score, we feel that the domestic box office will do better than usual.”

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Despite its iconic pedigree and star-studded cast including Julianne Moore and Amy Adams, “Dear Evan Hansen” has become a punching bag on social media since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. At the center of the jokes is the fact that the film stars a 27-year-old Ben Platt, who debuted the role playing a teenager.

“Music has always had mixed results at the box office,” said Paul Dergarbadian, senior media analyst at comScore. “It’s really difficult to determine and project what a musical might earn over the opening weekend, especially in this market.”

Earlier this year, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s adaptation of “In the Heights” hit the box office despite stellar reviews — but it was also streaming simultaneously on HBO Max.

Single-digit opening weekend for “Dear Evan Hansen” remindedSome “Cats” opened to $6.6 million in December 2019. But “Dear Evan Hansen” cost significantly less—$28 million versus $95 million—other than the fact that “Cats” launched in a pre-pandemic environment to worse reviews.

“‘Cats’ is a completely different film released in a completely different market. I don’t think the comparison is necessarily fair,” Dergarbadian said. “It’s more about choosing the audience.”

“The Greatest Showman” is an exception as well. The Hugh Jackman Musical defied all box office logic in 2017 and 2018, when it opened for $8.8 million, but grossed over $434.9 million globally. Justin Paul and Benz Pasek were the songwriting duo behind both “The Greatest Showman” and “Dear Evan Hansen”.

Apart from “Shang-Chi”, September has been slow for most of the films. 3 this weekend was “Free Guy,” which has been in theaters for seven weeks, and went to sixth place in the ninth week of “Jungle Cruise.” But big blockbusters are coming to North American theaters starting in October, with the “Venom” sequels this upcoming Friday, the James Bond film “No Time to Die” on October 8, and “Dune” on October 22.

“It’s the saying before the storm. October is probably one of the biggest months of the year at the box office,” Dergarabedian said. “It’s going to be like summer in theaters in October.”

And “Dune” is already operating in 32 markets abroad. The adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science-fiction novel grossed $76.5 million in two weeks.

According to comScore, estimated ticket sales in theaters in the US and Canada from Friday to Sunday. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” $13.3 million.

2. “Dear Evan Hansen,” $7.5 million.

3. “Free Guy,” $4.1 million.

4. “Candyman,” $2.5 million.

5. “Cry Macho,” $2.1 million.

6. “Jungle Cruise,” $1.7 million.

7. “Fatal,” $1.5 million.

8. “Copshop,” $1.3 million.

9. “Paw Patrol,” $1.1 million.

10. “Love Story,” $893,765.


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