Can ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Dethrone Reigning Box Office Champ ‘Shang-Chi’?

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Dear Evan Hansen,” the big-screen adaptation of the beloved Broadway musical, premieres in theaters this weekend. Will it be found at the top of box office charts?

The Universal film, which sees Ben Platt reprising his Tony-winning role, is projected to debut to approximately $10 million from 3,300 North American cinemas. It’s the only new film to open nationwide this weekend. Box office tracking, even in pre-pandemic times, can be unreliable, and musicals have proven to have mixed track records in theaters, so industry experts have indicated that a start in the high single digits wouldn’t be unexpected.

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An opening weekend haul below $10 million isn’t ideal for any major studio release. However, “Dear Evan Hansen” carries a modest $28 million production budget, meaning it doesn’t need to sell as many tickets to turn a profit. That’s good news, because the film has been skewered by critics (it has a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes), many of whom criticized the plot and the decision to cast the 27-year-old Platt as a high school teenager.

The reception to the movie is vastly different to the plaudits that greeted the stage version of the story, about an anxious and isolated teenager who finds himself tangled in a lie that spirals out of his control. “Dear Evan Hansen” became the toast of Broadway when it opened in 2016, winning six of the nine Tony Awards nominations it received.

Stephen Chbosky, whose credits “Wonder,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Rent,” make him something of an expert in movies based on musicals and centered around adolescents, directed the film. Despite the polarized response, “Dear Evan Hansen” has A-list pedigree, with a cast that includes Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever and Amandla Stenberg.

There’s a chance audiences rebuff “Dear Evan Hansen,” in which case Disney’s superhero adventure “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will retain the No. 1 spot on domestic box office charts for the fourth weekend straight.

The Marvel comic book adaptation, starring Simu Liu and Awkwafina, has been a reliable draw in recent weeks and has easily ruled over the competition for the last three weekends in a row. Should “Shang-Chi” see a decline comparable to recent weeks, it should collect another $10 million to $12 million between Friday and Sunday.

So far, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” has generated $178 million in North America. After this weekend, it looks to dethrone “Black Widow” and its $182 million in domestic ticket sales as the year’s highest-grossing movie.

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