Simu Liu stars as Marvel's newest superhero in Destin Daniel Cretton's 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.' Photo: AFP / Jasin Boland / Collection Christophe

The North American box office got a big boost as Disney’s new “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” featuring Marvel’s first leading Asian superhero, scored an unexpectedly strong $71.4 million opening, industry observer Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

That figure, for the Friday-through-Sunday period, was a Labor Day weekend record, the Hollywood Reporter said, and the film is expected to take in an additional $12.1 million on Monday. 

“This is a fantastic opening on a traditionally quiet Labor Day weekend,” said David A Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research. “The three-day number is a record-breaker for the holiday, a positive finish to the summer” marking “a sensational weekend for the industry.”

“Shang-Chi” stars Canadian actor, stuntman and erstwhile Deloitte accountant Simu Liu as Marvel’s newest superhero, a former assassin in the shadow of an evil father. It also features Awkwafina, Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh.

The film, which has drawn strong reviews for its choreography and Asian representation, enjoyed the second biggest opening of this pandemic year, behind Marvel’s “Black Widow,” which had an $80 million opening.

By way of comparison, Universal’s slasher film “Candyman” topped last weekend’s box office with just $22 million before slipping to second place this weekend with a three-day take of $10.6 million ($13 million for four days). It stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.