Friday Box Office Analysis
By David Mumpower
September 1, 2018
Apparently, using the word “rich” in a movie title is self-fulfilling prophecy. We know this because the surprise of the summer box office campaign didn’t arrive until the middle of August. Yes, Crazy Rich Asians is once again the number one movie in North America this Friday. Generally, winning a Labor Day weekend isn’t a big deal, though. The specific details are what make Crazy Rich Asians such an unbelievable story.
Yesterday, Crazy Rich Asians grossed $5.9 million domestically. That total almost exactly matches the combined box office takes of the second through fourth place films yesterday. We’ll get to them in a moment, but let’s spend most of today’s article celebrating the hit romantic comedy of the summer.
With $5.9 million on Friday, the movie is down only 16.5 percent from last Friday. That’s not even the amazing part. Crazy Rich Asians has fallen only 19.3 percent from its first Friday! This is a 1999 kind of remarkable box office hold, not a 2018 one.
In fact, one of the three films that’s most comparable to Crazy Rich Asians is The Sixth Sense, which dominated August box office all the way back in 1999. The film that elevated M. Night Shyamalan into a brand dropped 11 percent from its first Friday to its third one, and as BOP’s Tim Briody points out, that film came out the equivalent of five or six box office generations ago.
Crazy Rich Asians isn’t behaving like a modern release in any discernible way. Its closest equivalent may yet become a BOP fave, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which ran like clockwork for the body of 2002. Due to the truncated theatrical release windows caused by digital HD, Crazy Rich Asians won’t follow that model forever, but mimicking the pattern for a month or two is sublime for this day and age.
The most frequent comparison for the film has been The Help, the 2011 blockbuster, which also opened on a Wednesday in mid-August. That title wound up with $169.7 million in domestic earnings. Crazy Rich Asians currently paces nine percent ahead of that film after 16 days in theaters. Should that trend continue, the film would wind up with $185 million in North American box office!
A few weeks ago, BOP’s Michael Lynderey and I debated whether any August film could earn $100 million. He believed that The Meg was best positioned to do so. I foolishly argued against it, believing it would have one decent (not spectacular) weekend and then vanish. I then mentioned Christopher Robin as a possibility, although the film’s going to fall just a bit short, finishing in the upper 80s or lower 90s.
We both agreed that while Crazy Rich Asians tracking was nothing special, we’d noticed a strong buzz about the film. Neither of us could have possibly anticipated the degree with which this film has broken out, though. We felt like we were out on a limb saying that it could earn $100 million, which no major box office analyst believed was possible.
Only a few weeks later, we’ve reached a point where Crazy Rich Asians is pacing ahead of the other films used as a point of comparison. It’s $3.9 million ahead of The Sixth Sense after two Fridays, $7.9 million above The Help, and at the same box office level that My Big Fat Greek Wedding reached on its 143rd (!) day in theaters. Friends, something special is happening here. Enjoy tracking it.
(Caveat: Since Crazy Rich Asians opened on a Wednesday, it has two more days of box office than The Sixth Sense, which opened on a Friday.)
For the four-day weekend, Crazy Rich Asians is poised to surpass expectations yet again. Its internal multiplier last weekend was 3.53, and it should get Labor Day holiday inflation on Sunday. A three-day multiplier of 3.8 would give it a three-day take of $22.4 million. A four-day Labor Day total of $28.1 million seems likely. That would give it a running total of $116.8 million.
My research indicates that another new film entered theaters yesterday. Unless you work at Lionsgate and are a member of the cast, you don’t know this, though. Kin grossed right at $1 million while finishing in eighth place. The scary thought is that it’s possibly frontloaded. Let’s be generous and call it a $3.5 million three-day and $4.3 million four-day.
Last weekend’s major new release, The Happytime Murders, absorbed a second body blow yesterday. After a hugely disappointing opening weekend of $9.5 million, its second Friday was nightmarish. The film fell 70 percent to $1.2 million. BOP apparently loves Melissa McCarthy more than the rest of North America right now.
The other news story yesterday involved John Cho. His film, Searching, did well in limited release last weekend, grossing $43,197 per venue for a grand total of $388,769. Searching platformed this weekend, expanding into 1,207 theaters. On Friday, it grossed $2 million, good enough for third place behind Crazy Rich Asians and The Meg. It’s poised for a $6.5 million three-day and $8 million holiday weekend total. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 91 percent, Searching is poised to become a modest sleeper hit this September.