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‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Sails Through an Otherwise Soft Labor Day Box Office Weekend

Holdovers like “BlacKkKlansman” thrived, but new titles like “Operation Finale” and “Kin” suffered.

“Crazy Rich Asians”

Warner Bros.

Crazy Rich Asians” continues to pile up new box-office achievements far beyond its bragging rights as an all-Asian-cast film. Its $22,235,000 third weekend is the biggest gross for the Friday-Sunday of a Labor Day weekend since 2007 (when the remake of “Halloween” opened.) Among holdovers, the last one to better it for this date was “The Sixth Sense.”

The lack of major new releases this weekend helped a slew of holdovers. With “Asians” leading the way, this should be the lowest-grossing three-day-weekend since Super Bowl weekend. However, it represents a better than 20 percent improvement over a year ago in which a spectacularly bad Labor Day ended a weak summer. Year to date continues ahead of 2017 by around 10 percent.

Crazy Rich Asians

Though “Operation Finale” and “Kin” opened wide, and “Searching” expanded, the big news continues to be how “Asians” has caught on as a romantic comedy with a trajectory seen in the massive smash “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in 2002.

“Wedding” accumulated its slow-building gross over a 51 week period, never reaching #1, and not even reaching the Top Ten until Week 15. Its best weekend was actually Labor Day (#2 in Week 20), where its gross adjusted was $17.7 million. “Asians” has a far more traditional track so far, if also impressive. Its third weekend (although it had a Wednesday opening, which reduced the initial take) is only down 16 percent from two weeks ago,

The best head-to-head comparison remains “The Help.” That female-audience, wide-appeal film, at the same point in release, in adjusted grosses was only $2 million ahead of the $111 million for “Asians” so far. “The Help” ended up in 2018 terms at $198 million.

Is “Asians” in position to equal? Odds are a little against it, since “The Help” opened a week earlier and still had the Labor Day weekend ahead to buttress its gross ahead of the usually weaker September. But this weekend makes it likely that it will easily hit $165 million, and easily become the second biggest non-franchise/sequel release of the year (at the moment, “A Quiet Place” is best at $188 million). Needless to say, the success of these two lower-cost films — both of which will show major profit — should encourage studios to take a risk on expensive known quantities once in a while.

the meg

The Meg

The holiday, plus lack of strong new releases, kept several films to drops also below 20 percent. “The Meg” (Warner Bros.), down 18 percent, is an expensive basic concept movie (shark attack) with a known action star (Jason Statham) aimed at international returns. And it has thrived overseas, up to $342 million so far. But its domestic total is up to $120 million. That’s gravy for Warners, which is finding results here that similar to high-concept actioners like “Rampage” and “Skyscraper.” It should end up with a domestic total on the same level as “Oceans 8” and “Ready Player One.”

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” returned to third place in its sixth weekend. The last film to achieve that was “Black Panther” (which stayed there for seven total; its sixth weekend had it second). This has already more than tripled the opening weekend, and It is very rare for a film this deep in a series to have this sort of enduring strength. It appears on track to equal the adjusted total ($219 million) for “Rogue Nation” three years ago.

“Christopher Robin” (Disney) and “BlacKkKlansman” (Focus) also held their drops to under 20 percent. Among three weaker recent week openers, “Alpha” (Sony) managed to keep its drop to 26 percent its third weekend, which gives credence to the idea that Albert Hughes’ film had more potential than its initial results showed. Last week’s Melissa McCarthy with puppets R-rated comedy “The Happytime Murders” fell even further from its bad start at 54 percent, while “Mile 22”  dropped by 44 percent in this holdover-friendly frame.

“Operation Finale”

The fresh blood in the mix showed uneven results. “Operation Finale,” a recreation of the search for Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichman, opened last Wednesday in the hope of building word of mouth among adults. It only managed $6 million for the three days, for a five-day total of $7.7 million.

That’s a roaring success compared to “Kin,” which with James Franco and Zoe Kravitz in tow could manage only $3 million. This is a disaster for a film reported as a $30 million production, even if they reduced normal wide-release marketing costs.

More encouraging was the response to “Searching,” which went from its strong platform run last to a 1,207 national release (about one-third the size of a normal rollout) to fifth place and $5.7 million. The John Cho kidnapped daughter thriller (with the mystery investigated via web use) will need next weekend to see if the Sundance-debuted film clicked with regular moviegoers, but so far the unusual studio release pattern is working.

The Top Ten

1. Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$22,235,000 (-10%) in 3,865 theaters (+339); PTA (per theater average): $5,753; Cumulative: $110,961,000

2. The Meg (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #2

$10,530,000 (-18%) in 3.761 theaters (-270); PTA: $2,800; Cumulative: $120,516,000

3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Paramount) Week 6; Last weekend #4

$7,000,000 (-13%) in 2,639 theaters (-413); PTA: $2,653; Cumulative: $204,346,000

4. Operation Finale (MGM) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 58; Est. budget: $22 million

$6,000,000 in 1,818 theaters; PTA: $3,300; Cumulative: $7,727,000

5. Searching (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #22

$5,700,000 (+1,366%) in 1,207 theaters (+1,198); PTA: $4,722; Cumulative: $6,208,000

6. Christopher Robin (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #6

$5,032,000 (-20%) in 2,925 theaters (-469); PTA: $1,720; Cumulative: $85,441,000

7. Alpha (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #6

$4,450,000 (-26%) in 2,881 theaters (+162); PTA: $1,545; Cumulative: $27,372,000

8. Happytime Murders (STX) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$4,410,000 (-54%) in 3.256 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,354; Cumulative: $17,026,000

9. BlacKkKlansman (Focus) Week 4; Last weekend #8

$4,140,000 (-19%) in 1,766 theaters (-148); PTA: $2,344; Cumulative: $38,331,000

10. Mile 22 (STX) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$3,580,000 (-44%) in 2,950 theaters (-570); PTA: $1,214; Cumulative: $31,776,000

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