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We’re stating the obvious when we say that when Avengers: Endgame first hit theaters earlier this summer, it broke a lot of records. But contrary to belief, it’s not untouchable. Indie darling The Farewell, led by Crazy Rich Asians’ Awkwafina, just defeated Endgame for highest per-theater debut average.
A24’s The Farewell opened in Los Angeles and New York City on Friday in a total of four theaters on Friday to a $351,330 box office gross, per Box Office Mojo. So, the family dramedy earned an average of $88,916, the highest for this year. Avengers: Endgame made an astronomical $357 million in 4662 theaters, for a lower average of $76,601.
Alright, so as far as money-making goes, Avengers: Endgame is indisputably the winner here, and by a long shot. For a movie with a much smaller budget, smaller scale and narrower appeal to beat one of its records off is incredible, not to mention every other movie this year as well. Additionally, The Farewell beats out other critically-acclaimed indies The Big Sick, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with this per theater average as well!
That’s all without mentioning New York City’s huge power outage, which also affected its opening night. The Farewell’s writer and director even tweeted this out on Friday:
She was kidding, of course, but wow is this a sweet win for the director! Lulu Wang wrote the film based on her own experiences. The Farewell follows a young woman named Billi (Awkwafina) who finds out her grandma is terminally ill. Per her culture’s tradition, she’s to keep her fate from her grandmother. She goes back to China with her parents (played by Tzi Ma and Diana Lin) to quietly say goodbye to her.
The Farewell first premiered at Sundance earlier this year to rave reviews and currently has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with over 100 reviews filed. CinemaBlend’s 4 star acclaim calls Awkwafina’s performance “revelatory”, also calling the emotional family drama “accented with a subtle but potent melancholy" and that "the dialogue is both smart and funny without feeling unnatural.”
After the #GoldOpen movement helped boost Crazy Rich Asians’ $238 million worldwide success by being active on social media and hosting screenings, the Asian community organization has also recently partnered with AMC Theatres to expand its campaign with this film as well.
These debut numbers were important to the film’s future success as Lulu Wang previously announced that their earnings in LA and NYC would determine how wide the release would expand in coming weeks. The release comes amidst a wave of Asian-led blockbusters, such as the upcoming exciting Mulan live-action remake and Marvel’s Shang-Chi in Phase Four.
This certainly shows that supporting smaller films can make a difference. The main characters don’t need brightly-colored costumes or state-of-the-art CGI technology to find mass appeal and break box office records.
The Farewell is now playing in select theaters.