The movie had almost no drop-off in ticket sales during its second week in theaters, which is almost unheard of.
“Crazy Rich Asians” had a crazy second weekend at the box office.
The first mainstream Hollywood movie fronted by an all-Asian cast since Disney’s “The Joy Luck Club” in 1993 made an estimated $25 million over the weekend, which was just a 6% drop from its opening last weekend — something that’s almost unheard of in the movie industry.
“Bigfoot sightings are more common than second weekend drops like this for summer movies,” said Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warner Bros, told the Los Angeles Times. “You have to go back to 1993’s ‘The Fugitive’ or 1999’s ‘The Sixth Sense.'” In fact, wide releases hitting outside of holiday weekends commonly see drops of close to 50% from opening weekend into the second week.
The romantic comedy starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Tan Kheng Hua, Lisa Lu and Ken Jeong opened on Aug. 15 and roped in $35.3 million from that Wednesday to Sunday, earning $26.5 million for the weekend. It has already grossed $76.8 million in total, and topped the box office for both weekends in a row.
And its staying power comes in part from its broadening audience base. Goldstein also noted that while the moviegoers coming to see “Crazy Rich Asians” were 44% Asian-American over its opening weekend, that percentage dropped to 27% this past weekend as more Caucasian and Hispanic ticket buyers hit theaters.
“There’s no greater indicator of the enthusiasm of an audience than a minimal drop in a second weekend,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore, told USA Today. “This isn’t the product of opening-weekend hype. This is the product of a great movie resonating very strongly with all audiences. The movie has become a cultural phenomenon.”
Stars like Chrissy Teigen, whose mother is Thai, hit social media to rave about what it meant to see a mainstream hit highlighting Asian Americans at last. “You never know how much you miss being represented on screen until you actually see what it’s like to be represented,” Teigen wrote in a heartfelt Instagram post on Sunday after seeing the movie. “And represented by all different types of characters with all different types of personalities, just like any other great movie.”
“Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu was blown away by the turn out, tweeting after the opening weekend that audience reception exceeded his expectations and proved that diversity sells big time.
3/America fell in love w/our kickass all-Asian cast of many different background, styles, shapes, sizes ages…& blew the lid off the expectation at 34 million dollars since we were released. Truly a #GoldOpen . Thank u! I feel very lucky to be a small part of this giant movement
— Jon M. Chu (@jonmchu) August 19, 2018
“The fact that we had never shared a communal experience of joy, laughter and emotions at the movies like this has been an injustice. But now we have. And there’s no going back. #CrazyRichAsians is the number 1 movie in America. Yes we are. Read that again,” he wrote adding in a follow up tweet:
“America fell in love w/our kickass all-Asian cast of many different background, styles, shapes, sizes ages…& blew the lid off the expectation at 34 million dollars since we were released. Truly a #GoldOpen . Thank u! I feel very lucky to be a small part of this giant movement.”
The film’s producers took a major pay cut to make the film, turning down a reported massive paycheck from Netflix so that “Crazy Rich” would play on screens worldwide instead, because they believed that having Asian representation on the big screen was more important.
Kevin Kwan, who wrote the 2013 international bestselling novel of the same name, and director Chu made a deal with Warner Bros. for the movie distribution, and passed on a “gigantic payday” from Netflix.
“I could have moved to an island and never worked another day,” Kwan told the Hollywood Reporter of the deal he turned down.
Kwan and Chu’s 2016 Netflix partnership would have given them complete artistic freedom over a trilogy, plus seven-figure-minimum paydays for each stakeholder, according to THR. While Kwan and Chu were torn on the decision at first, they wanted to set a standard for greater Asian-American representation in Hollywood.
“Jon and I both felt this sense of purpose,” Kwan said. “We needed this to be an old-fashioned cinematic experience, not for fans to sit in front of a TV and press a button.”
“Crazy Rich Asians,” a rom-com based on the book that has sold more than a million copies in more than 20 languages, follows a Chinese-American professor who accompanies her boyfriend to Singapore and learns that her beau actually comes from a wealthy family and is inheriting a massive fortune.
The push to bring the film to theaters is a much-needed win for inclusivity. Despite the success of recent films with diverse casts like “Get Out” and “The Big Sick,” Hollywood has a long way to go: In 2017, 70.7% of the 4,454 speaking characters in films were white, but only 12.1% were black, 6.2% were Hispanic, 4.8% were Asian and 3.9% were mixed-race, according to a recent study from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
Besides giving diverse audiences more stories featuring characters they can relate to, inclusivity is also better for the bottom line. This year’s “Black Panther,” the first mainstream superhero movie with an almost entirely black cast, became the first film in 2018 to hit $1 billion worldwide. And according to the 2016 Hollywood Diversity Report, which studied 200 major motion pictures released in 2014, the eight films released that year with a 41% to 50% minority cast earned a median global box office gross of $122.2 million, compared to the 55 films with minorities making up less than 10% of the cash earning less than half that at $52.6 million.
This article was originally published on Aug. 2, 2018 and has been updated with “Crazy Rich Asians” second-week sales.
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