Stamford Advocate

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ opens second to ‘Shang-Chi’ at box office


“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 in its first weekend in theaters. The Universal musical that’s 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 pic has topped the charts for four consecutiv­e weekends and this weekend surpassed “Black Widow” to become the highest domestic earner of the pandemic.

With little in the way of high-profile competitio­n this weekend, “Dear Evan Hansen’s” $7.3 million was enough to land it in second place. While critics were less than impressed, audiences that did turn out this weekend were fans and gave it an A- CinemaScor­e. Women made up an estimated 62% of the audience according to exit polls. Directed by Stephen Chbosky and written by Steven Levenson, “Dear Evan Hansen” is about a high school student with social anxiety disorder.

“We are tremendous­ly proud of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and everything about it,” said Universal’s head of distributi­on Jim Orr. “With an exceptiona­l film and great audience scores, we think that’ll lead to a better than normal run at the domestic box office.”

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

The single-digit opening weekend reminded some of “Cats” which opened to $6.6 million in December 2019. But “Dear Evan Hansen” cost significan­tly less — $28 million vs. $95 million — in addition to the fact that “Cats” launched to worse reviews in a pre-pandemic environmen­t. There is also “The Greatest Showman” exception. The Hugh Jackman musical defied all box office logic in 2017 and 2018 when it opened to a deathly

$8.8 million but went on to gross over $434.9 million globally. Justin Paul and Benj Pasek were the songwritin­g duo behind both “The Greatest Showman” and “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Bigger blockbuste­rs are coming to North American theaters starting in October, with the “Venom” sequel out this upcoming Friday, the James Bond film “No Time to Die” following on Oct. 8 and “Dune” on Oct. 22.

 ?? Erika Doss / Associated Press ?? This mage released by Universal Pictures shows Colton Ryan, left, and Ben Platt in a scene from “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Erika Doss / Associated Press This mage released by Universal Pictures shows Colton Ryan, left, and Ben Platt in a scene from “Dear Evan Hansen.”

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