Sanja Bucko/Warner Bros.
‘Crazy Rich Asians’

Elsewhere, Mark Wahlberg’s ‘Mile 22’ is struggling to find much action.

Jon M. Chu’s romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians danced past The Meg at the Friday box office for a projected $21 million-plus weekend and flush five-day debut of $30 million or more.

That’s a strong showing for a rom-com considering the ongoing comedy slump at the box office.

For Warner Bros., the weekend is a double win, between Crazy Rich Asians and holdover shark pic The Meg, which looks to come in at No. 2 with as much as $19.5 million in its sophomore outing.

Early Friday, the race was too close for comfort between Chu’s modestly budgeted $30 million film, based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling 2013 novel of the same name, and The Meg. By day’s end, Crazy Rich Asians had pulled ahead, earning $7.3 million for the day from 3,384 theaters, compared to $5.8 million for The Meg from 4,118 locations.

Crazy Rich Asians is the first Hollywood studio movie since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club to feature an all-Westernized Asian cast. The story follows American Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) as she accompanies her longtime boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. As Rachel visits Nick’s hometown for the first time, she quickly learns that her boyfriend is from one of the richest families in Asia. Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Gemma Chan and Jimmy O. Yang also star.

Boasting stellar reviews and an A CinemaScore, Crazy Rich Asians is playing heavily female. It’s doing its strongest business in Asian markets and big cities.

The weekend’s two other new offerings are Pete Berg’s Mile 22, starring Mark Wahlberg, and Studio 8’s prehistoric adventure-drama Alpha, directed by Albert Hughes and starring Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Mile 22 is coming in behind expectations after poor reviews and a B- CinemaScore. The action-thriller grossed $5.3 million from 3,520 theaters on Friday for a projected $13 million-plus debut, putting it at No. 3.

The action-thriller, marking the fourth film that Berg and Wahlberg have made together, tells the story of an elite CIA operative and his team who are tasked with escorting a high-value asset who is being targeted by terrorists. John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, Ronda Rousey and CL co-star.

Alpha, one of the first films from Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 and partner Sony, earned an estimated $3.4 million from 2,719 locations on Friday for a debut of $9 million-$10 million. Set 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, the story centers on a young man who is injured and left for dead by his tribe while on a hunt. The film’s current Rotten Tomatoes score is 82 percent.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: This weekend gets off to an early start with the Wednesday release of the much-anticipated romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, the first Asian-led studio film to hit theaters since The Joy Luck Club. While Joy Luck Club didn’t play in any more than 600 theaters during its run 25 years ago, Crazy Rich Asians will get its start in over 3,300 locations with plenty of buzz behind it. Later in the week, STX will release what they hope is a franchise-starter in Mile 22 featuring Mark Wahlberg re-teaming with director Peter Berg, while Sony’s Studio 8 will release Alpha.

Beginning with Crazy Rich Asians, the adaptation of Kevin Kwan‘s novel of the same name has been making headlines for some time now. Originally published in 2013, the book has found a place on Amazon Charts for the past five weeks, currently ranking as the third most sold fiction title on the site, up two positions from the previous week. On top of that, the film has already generated a social media movement and IMDb page view data shows it outperforming the likes of last year’s hit comedy Girls Trip as well as A Bad Moms Christmas over the two weeks leading up to release.

As for the weekend, Warner Bros. is anticipating a $29 million five-day opening, but given the hype, strong reviews and the data we’re looking at, we’re expecting a larger result. At this point, a $30 million five-day feels like the floor, while a five-day pushing toward $40 million doesn’t feel at all out of the realm of possibility. The film already has a little money in its coffers thanks to sneaks held in early August where it is reported it brought in anywhere from $450-500k from 354 locations. At this time, a five-day approaching $35 million feels like a safe bet and we’re ready for it to pop even higher.

Look for WB’s The Meg to take another $20 million bite out of the box office this weekend, signaling a ~56% drop from its stellar $45.4 million debut last weekend. This should put the film’s domestic gross right around $85 million after ten days in release.

STXfilms‘s Mile 22 should be looking at a third place finish for the weekend as Wahlberg and Berg team for the fourth straight film in a row, and with this one their hoping to start a whole new franchise. The R-rated action-thriller will debut in 3,520 locations and studio expectations are for a debut similar to the $16.8 million opening for Tom Cruise‘s American Made last September. A look at IMDb page view data supports such a comparison along with comps to films such as Den of Thieves ($15.2m opening), Death Wish ($13m opening) and American Assassin ($14.8m opening). Overall, a performance right around $15-17 million seems a good bet.

Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout should land in fourth place, dropping around 37% for a $12.2 million three-day, pushing the film’s cume near $184 million. Such a performance would help maintain Fallout‘s lead over Mission: Impossible II as it hopes to become the largest grossing film in the M:I franchise.

Rounding out the top five we’re expecting a good sophomore session for Spike Lee‘s BlacKkKlansman, dropping around 31% for a second weekend right around $7.6 million. Should the film hold to that forecast it will be looking to top $23 million or so by the end of the weekend.

It isn’t until the second half of the top ten that we find Sony’s Alpha. Debuting under the Studio 8 banner, the Albert Hughes-directed adventure feature is set during the last Ice Age and is expected to open in ~2,700 theaters. Recent industry expectations pegged the film for a $7-8 million opening as it will debut not only in 3D, but also in select IMAX locations, but based on what we’re looking at that could be a stretch. IMDb page view data shows the film hewing closer to the recent release of The Darkest Minds if not a bit behind. So, while the studio is anticipating a performance around $8-10 million we can’t help but forecast a debut closer to $6 million for the weekend.

This weekend’s forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Crazy Rich Asians (3,384 theaters) – $25.0 M (~$35M five-day)
  • The Meg (4,118 theaters) – $20.0 M
  • Mile 22 (3,520 theaters) – $16.0 M
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout (3,482 theaters) – $12.2 M
  • BlacKkKlansman (1,788 theaters) – $7.6 M
  • Disney’s Christopher Robin (3,602 theaters) – $7.3 M
  • Alpha (2,700 theaters) – $6.0 M
  • Slender Man (2,358 theaters) – $4.1 M
  • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2,266 theaters) – $3.5 M
  • Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2,187 theaters) – $3.4 M