September 01, 2018
To the surprise of…. (double-checks the math on the calculator) absolutely no one, the weekend Box Office is again being dominated by Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc.'s Crazy Rich Asians. The Jon M. Chu-directed romantic comedy earned another $5.865 million on its third Friday. That’s a mere 16% drop from its previous Friday (he writes while humming "Never Enough"), bringing its 17-day total to $94.592m. Barring a fluke, it’ll cross the $100m mark sometime tonight. At a glance, we’re looking at a $23.3m (-6%) Fri-Sun weekend and a $30.4m Fri-Mon holiday frame.
Box Office: Crazy Rich Asians Drops Just 16% For $6M Friday
Even a “mere” $25 million Fri-Mon frame would give it the third-biggest Labor Day gross of all time, behind the fifth weekend of The Sixth Sense ($29.2m in 1999) and the opening weekend of Rob Zombie’s Halloween ($30.6m in 2007). We’ll see if the film’s third weekend snags the biggest Labor Day weekend of all, sans inflation of course. If this all plays out as presumed, the $30m-budgeted Constance Wu/Henry Golding romcom will have $119m by Monday.
For reference, that 6% drop would be about on par with the respective third-weekend drops for Taken (-7% over President’s Day weekend in 2009 after a $25m Fri-Sun debut and a 16% drop the next weekend), The Butler (-10% over Labor Day in 2013), The Help (-27% in mid-August without any holiday bump), The Fugitive (-19% in mid-August of 1993) and The Sixth Sense (-7% in August of 1999). So yes, Labor Day weekend boost notwithstanding, it’s still playing like The Fugitive and The Sixth Sense.
I can run some long-range projections on Sunday after we get better Fri-Sun/Fri-Mon estimates. Once it presumably passes $117 million on Monday, it’ll be past Trainwreck ($110m in 2015), Bad Moms ($116m in 2016) and Girls Trip ($115m in 2017). For all the talk about major studio comedy in a slump, there is still a huge (and obvious) marketplace for glorified party flicks (throw it Ocean’s 8 and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again while you’re at it) that highlight various underrepresented demographics.
If I were a reactionary studio executive, I’d have demanded ten spec scripts that essentially rip off Girls Trip and Crazy Rich Asians “but with Hispanic women” on my desk last month. After all, it’s not like Hispanic women ever go to the movies. But putting aside the whole “representation matters” conversation for a moment, Crazy Rich Asians is on the path to be one of the biggest straight-up (no action, no singing) live-action romantic comedies of all time.
After this weekend, it’ll be the biggest-grossing romcom in unadjusted North American box office since the Oscar-winning Silver Linings Playbook in late 2012/early 2013. If you want to say “Oh, but that’s more of an Oscar-season dramedy about mental illness,” fine. That will make Crazy Rich Asians still be the biggest straight-up romcom since Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds’ The Proposal ($164m in 2009). If it gets past $150 million (We’re the Millers), it’ll be the biggest non-actiony live-action comedy in domestic grosses since Ted ($218m in 2012).
Even if you argue that a comedy can have a little bit of action, music or fantasy (like a talking teddy bear), Crazy Rich Asians is almost surely going to end up in the company of Pitch Perfect 2 ($188m in 2015), 22 Jump Street ($190m in 2014), Ted ($218m in 2012), The Hangover Part II ($254m in 2011), Bridesmaids ($169m in 2011), Grown Ups ($162m in 2010), The Proposal ($164m in 2009) and The Hangover ($277m in 2009) in terms of the biggest Hollywood comedies in the last ten years.
In terms of inflation, it won’t come anywhere near the top of the comedy or romantic comedy lists, since we’re dealing with movies like Arthur that earned $95 million in 1981. Consider that a #ChinaRichGirlfriendGoal. It’s still too early to talk about a $200 million+ domestic total or to start throwing around My Big Fat Greek Wedding comparisons. If it can hold out as summer becomes Fall, and hold its own alongside WB and New Line’s own The Nun, it may not be “too early” for much longer.
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