Late August is famously not seen as a wonderful time of year for the movie industry. With theater attendance typically fairly low, it's usually a dumping ground for titles that studios don't feel have a ton of potential. The lone bright spot is that sometimes studios can release solid features that take advantage of the lull - and that's exactly what we have with Jon Chu's Crazy Rich Asians. Riding high on a wave of very positive reviews and audience reactions, the romantic comedy performed brilliantly in its second week, its total only dropping about five percent from its debut. Check out the full Top 10 below, and join me after for analysis.
The general rule of thumb is that movies drop between 40 and 60 percent from their first to second weekends, but Crazy Rich Asians took that mold and smashed it into a million pieces. The release actually expanded, with Warner Bros. putting the film in an additional 142 theaters, and it definitely didn't hurt. Between those buying tickets for the second and third time, and those seeing the movie based on the recommendations of friends, family, and media, the movie was able to soar, and made almost as much money as it did in its premiere three days. It didn't have much in the way of competition (more on that in a bit), and as a result it's already managed to make more than double its $30 million budget domestically.
Things are looking pretty fantastic for Crazy Rich Asians looking forward as well. While there are some audience-grabbing titles ahead on the schedule, like The Predator and The Nun (also a Warner Bros. property), they won't be arriving until the calendar turns over to September. There is still a full weekend of smaller releases coming up, and there is every expectation that the Singapore-set comedy will be able to grab the box office crown for a third week in a row. Barring any major surprises, expect to be continue reading about this film for the rest of the summer.
As alluded to earlier, things didn't really work out so well for the batch of new releases we saw hit theaters this past weekend. Both Crazy Rich Asians and Jon Turteltaub's The Meg were able to beat out the highest earner, and Brian Henson's The Happytime Murders definitely didn't impress. The feature, starring Melissa McCarthy and an ensemble of crude, rude muppets, was able to hit eight figures, but it's a long way from justifying the $40 million price tag. This is a project that has been in development for years, with lots of stops and starts along the way, and these early figures suggest that financially the juice may not have been worth the squeeze.
That being said, The Happytime Murders is a triumph compared to director Oliver Daly's A.X.L. - the story of a boy who rescues a military-created robotic dog. It only entered half the number of theaters that were showing The Happytime Murders, but only made about 20 percent of the profits comparatively. It got very little ink in the run up to its release - there are currently only nine reviews registered on Rotten Tomatoes - and while there is a respective "B+" CinemaScore posted, there is a very good chance that you won't be reading about this film again until 2028 when a site runs a "Films From A Decade Ago You Forgot Existed" feature.
Lastly, Aneesh Chaganty's Searching deserves to have a light shined on it as well, despite the fact that it didn't make the Top 10 and actually only made $360,000. The only reason that happened is because Screen Gems only put the film into nine theaters nationwide - which means that it had an impressive $40,000 per theater average. The feature has received some immensely positive word of mouth since its Sundance Film Festival premiere in January, and it has a 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes that it can show off, so hopefully it will get to do some big business when it expands next week.