'Shang-Chi' Set to Surpass 'Black Widow' to Become Highest-Grossing Film amid COVID Pandemic

The movie, which is currently still in theaters, is expected to earn a total of $195.2 million by the end of the week

Photo: Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios; Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios

The reign of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings continues!

The Marvel film is set to hit a major milestone and will become the highest-grossing film to date to be released amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from Deadline.

The movie, which is still playing in theaters, is expected to earn a total of $195.2 million by the end of the week and will surpass Marvel's other recent outing, Black Widow — which has earned $183.4 million. Currently, Shang-Chi has earned $181.8 million domestically, according to Box Office Mojo.

Shang-Chi was released solely in movie theaters, which differed from Black Widow's rollout. The Scarlett Johansson film was previously released in theaters and made available to stream for a price to Disney+ subscribers. (Shang-Chi will be available for Disney+ subscribers to stream on Nov. 12, which is also Disney+ Day.)

Black Widow, which debuted on July 9, earned $80 million at the U.S. box office in its opening weekend and $78 million at the worldwide box office. It earned another $60 million from the Disney+ Premier $30 rental fees on the platform.

shang chi and the legend of the ten rings
Simu Liu in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Marvel

Following behind Shang-Chi and Black Widow in the domestic box office are Universal Picture's F9: The Fast Saga, Paramount Picture's A Quiet Place Part II and Disney's Jungle Cruise.

Shang-Chi sees lead star Simu Liu make his breakout performance as the lead character Shang-Chi, a skilled martial artist who has been trained as an assassin since childhood. After leaving the Ten Rings organization to pursue a normal life in San Francisco, he's forced to confront his past once again.

The blockbuster is making history as the first installment in the MCU with an Asian lead and a predominantly Asian cast. It's a welcome form of representation amid rising hate crimes against the AAPI community during the pandemic.

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Liu, 32, previously spoke to PEOPLE about breaking barriers in the MCU and joining the Avengers. "I'm excited and I think for all of the good and the bad of what's to come, it's definitely a journey that I feel very privileged to be going on," he said in May.

"I know how much it would've meant to kids and to myself as a kid seeing this when I was younger. I totally understand the importance of it," Liu added. "I know that it's not going to be easy, but at the same time, I feel so incredibly excited to be a part of this movement that gets to push society forward... It gets to deepen the conversation, it gets to normalize seeing Asian faces on screen and hearing Asian voices and our stories."

RELATED VIDEO: Simu Liu Talks 'Dream Come True' on Playing First Asian Marvel Superhero

The news of Shang-Chi's feat at the box office also comes about after Johansson sued Disney in July for breach of contract after the company released her Black Widow in movie theaters and on Disney+ simultaneously.

In the lawsuit obtained by PEOPLE, Johansson said her Black Widow contract with Disney's Marvel Entertainment was for a guaranteed exclusive movie theater release, with the bulk of her salary depending in large part on the film's box office performance.

A Walt Disney Company spokesperson later released a statement slamming the lawsuit, saying: "There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson's contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date."

Johansson has starred as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow since 2010's Iron Man 2 and has since been an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically the company's Avengers films. Her character died in 2019's Avengers: Endgame. Black Widow was Johansson's only spinoff film involving her character.

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