Weekend Box Office: 'Crazy Rich Asians' Earns Crazy $25M; 'Happytime Murders' Bombs With $10M
'The Happytime Murders' marks a career low for Melissa McCarthy in a lead role; Global Road's 'A.X.L' fared even worse as the mini-film studio teeters on bankruptcy.
Jon M. Chu's Crazy Rich Asians soared to $25 million in its second outing — almost as much as the rom-com earned in its first weekend and representing one of the best holds in modern history for a wide release summer title.
Not everyone escaped the dog days of August unscathed. Melissa McCarthy's latest R-rated comedy, The Happytime Murders, opened to a dismal $10 million domestically from 3,526 theaters in a career low for the actress for a movie in which she has top billing. The new family adventure A.X.L. fared even worse, launching to $2.9 million in another blow for Global Road as the mini-film studio teeters on the edge of bankruptcy.
The big headline overseas was Disney and Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp, which topped the foreign chart with $71.2 million, fueled by a stellar debut in China of $68 million. That's the fourth-best showing of any title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe behind Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War and Captain America: Civil War.
China and Japan (where the pic is set to bow Aug. 31) are Ant-Man's final foreign markets. The sequel has now overtaken the first Ant-Man ($519 million) to finish Sunday with a global total of $544 million.
Happytime Murders landed at No. 3 in North America behind Crazy Rich Asians and The Meg, both from Warner Bros., which is dominating the final weeks of the summer season. All told, summer revenue is running ahead of the same corridor in 2017 by nearly 14 percent, according to comScore.
Crazy Rich Asians — groundbreaking for featuring an all-Westernized Asian cast — fell a scant six percent domestically from the $26.5 million it earned last weekend as part of its five-day debut of $35.3 million. Playing in 3,526 locations, the movie's 12-day domestic total through Sunday is $76.8 million, an impressive number considering the overall comedy slump at the box office and the fact that the rom-com cost a modest $30 million to produce. Moreover, Crazy Rich Asians is already the top-grossing comedy of the year so far domestically after quickly besting Game Night ($69 million).
Crazy Rich Asians continues to broaden out beyond the Asian-American demographic, which made up 27 percent of this weekend's audience, compared to 38 percent last weekend (and 44 percent on opening day). The Caucasian demo grew from 41 percent to 48 percent, while Hispanic ticket buyers increased from 11 percent to 13 percent, and African-Americans, 6 percent to 9 percent ("other" made up 3 percent).
Crazy Rich Asians also picked up strength in the South and Midwest, according to Warners president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein. "It's significant that the film made just as much this Saturday as it did the Saturday before," he says.
Internationally, Crazy Rich Asians grossed $6 million from its first 10 markets, including several countries in Asia. Singapore, one of the film's locales, turned in $1.8 million, the best opening of all time for a rom-com, according to Warners. The pic's foreign tally currently stands at $7.1 million for a global total of $83.9 million.
In its third weekend, The Meg swam past the $100 million mark domestically upon earning another $13 million from 4,031 theaters. Globally, the big-budget pic has cleared $400 million, but it will need to continue to do big business considering it cost at least $150 million to produce (Warners puts the net budget at $130 million).
STXfilms had high hopes for Happytime Murders, which came in behind expectations after getting slapped with a C- CinemaScore and poor reviews. McCarthy's last comedy, Life of the Party, opened to a disappointing $17.9 million domestically in May.
Set in a world where humans and (raunchy) puppets coexist, the $40 million film was directed by Brian Henson, son of the late Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. The story follows a private puppet detective (Bill Barretta) who reteams with his human former partner (McCarthy) to solve the murder of his brother by a serial killer who is now targeting the castmembers of a former TV show.
Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale and Elizabeth Banks co-star in Happytime Murders, produced by The Henson Co.'s Henson Alternative alongside McCarthy and Ben Falcone's On the Day Productions.
Holdovers Mission: Impossible — Fallout and Christopher Robin likewise stayed high on the North American chart, at Nos. 4 and No. 5 with $8 million and $6.3 million, respectively. Globally, Fallout finished Sunday with $538.7 million in ticket sales; Christopher Robin's worldwide tally is $112.7 million.
Global Road's A.X.L, launching in 1,710 theaters, came in at No. 9. Early last week, lenders took control of the financially strapped film studio, which is less than a year old. It is possible Global Road, owned by U.S.-China broker Donald Tang, could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as early as this week.
A.X.L., which earned a B+ CinemaScore, tells the story of a military robotic dog who, after an experiment gone wrong, is found hiding in the desert by a civilian (Alex Neustaedter), who activates its owner-pairing technology and must protect the robot from the scientists who created him. Becky G., Alex MacNicoll, Dominc Rains and Thomas Jane also star in the pic, which was directed by Oliver Daly. The film wasn't screened in advance for reviewers.
Among more limited offerings, Michael Noer's remake Papillon debuted in 544 theaters, grossing $1.2 million. The prison epic, starring Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek, made its world premiere almost a year ago at the Toronto International Film Festival. Bleecker Street is handing the film in the U.S.
Christopher Nolan's "unrestored" 70mm version of Stanley Kubrick's cinematic masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey began its one-week exclusive run in four Imax theaters, while more than 300 Imax theaters are playing a new 4K restoration of the film. The rerelease, timed to the film's 50th anniversary, grossed roughly $800,000 for the weekend.
Screen Gems' Searching, a missing-child thriller about a Korean-American family living in the San Francisco Bay Area, launched in its first nine theaters. The film posted a screen average north of $42,000, the best of the weekend. Searching is set to expand nationwide next weekend.