By JAKE COYLE
AP Film Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The opening weekend for “Crazy Rich Asians’’ was historic. Its second weekend was even more impressive.
The romantic comedy sensation slid just 6 percent from its chart-topping debut to again lead the box office with $25 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates on Aug. 26. Almost as many people turned out over the last weekend for “Crazy Rich Asians’’ as they did for its opening Friday-to-Sunday bow — an unheard of hold for a non-holiday release. Drops of close to 50 percent are common for wide releases.
But propelled by enthusiastic reviews and an eagerness for a major Hollywood film led by Asian stars, “Crazy Rich Asians’’ is showing almost unprecedented legs. After opening with $35.3 million from Aug. 15 to Aug. 19 and $26.5 million over the most recent weekend, the Warner Bros. release — the first Hollywood studio movie in 25 years with an all-Asian cast — has already grossed $76.8 million.
Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warner Bros noted that after a 44 percent Asian American audience over opening weekend, that percentage fell to 27 percent on the second weekend while Caucasian and Hispanic ticket buyers grew.
“The audience is broadening,’’ he said.
“There’s no greater indicator of the enthusiasm of an audience than a minimal drop in a second weekend,’’ said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “This isn’t the product of opening-weekend hype. This is the product of a great movie resonating very strongly with all audiences. The movie has become a cultural phenomenon.’’
“Crazy Rich Asians’’ also expanded internationally, though with a more muted effect. It grossed an estimated $6 million in 18 markets, including $1.8 million on 105 screens in Singapore, where much of the movie is set.
“Crazy Rich Asians’’ hasn’t yet been granted a release in China.
CRA draws immigrant parents to the movies
For many older, first-generation Asian immigrants, going to the movies doesn’t rank high among hobbies and interests. The crowds, the language barrier and ticket prices are often turnoffs.
But the appeal of “Crazy Rich Asians’’ has bridged a real-life generation gap.
“The over-performance of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ shows the power of a great movie with universal themes to draw all audiences and also to break down preconceived notions of what can constitute a box office hit,’’ Dergarabedian said.
Lie Shia Ong-Sintzel, 36, of Seattle talked her parents into coming along the second time she saw the movie. It was the first time in five years the couple — Chinese immigrants from Indonesia — had been to the cinema.
“They don’t really go to movies in the theater. I usually have to drag them,’’ Ong-Sintzel said. “I felt like this was a big occasion — a movie with an all-Asian cast.’’
Looking at her parents, she cried because everything from the acting to the food seemed to resonate more. She wasn’t the only one.
“I looked over again, my dad was wiping tears from his eyes,’’ Ong-Sintzel said.
In Temple City, California, Catherine Fanchiang, 27, who is Taiwanese American, went to see the film a third time to keep her parents company.
Fanchiang’s mother, Kao Han Fan, also wanted to see the movie because she recognized Michelle Yeoh, who plays a wary matriarch. But it was Wu’s character who touched the 64-year-old the most. Fan said she liked how the story depicted an “ABC,’’ (American-born Chinese) who showed Asian cultural values such as putting family first.
“When you grow up in an Asian family … it will be in your mind when you do something, you will always think about other people,’’ Fan said. “You are not really, really selfish, thinking about yourself.’’
Fanchiang enjoyed watching her parents see an American film with Asians that wasn’t a period piece.
“It was just a regular movie that just happens to have Asian people in it. It’s not like we’re ninjas or we’re good at fighting. It’s Asians existing in the modern world,’’ Fanchiang said.
In the case of Alice Sue and her daughter, Audrey Sue-Matsumoto, the 67-year-old mother saw the movie first. She went a second time in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Daly City with her daughter. Sue, who is Chinese, doesn’t go to the movies much but knew she had to see this one.
“It’s talking about Asian culture. It’s real Asians mixed with American-born Asians,’’ Sue said. “And I want to support the Asian movies.’’
Sue-Matsumoto, 35, said there probably wasn’t a more fitting film for the two to see together.
“It was good to watch it with my mom because I feel like it was very relatable in our situation,’’ Sue-Matsumoto said. “She’s an immigrant, and I’m American-born. That movie has that generational distinction.’’
For Mark Gadia, 36, of Chula Vista, California, the movie led to him learning more about his parents’ courtship in the Philippines. His parents related to Wu and Henry Golding’s star-crossed couple because of how his mother was treated by her future in-laws.
“She apparently wasn’t good enough for my dad. It took this movie to make this revelation of how they met,’’ Gadia said.
He did not expect to come away having enjoyed seeing the film alongside his parents as much as he did.
“As sappy as this sounds, it’s something I’ll always remember,’’ Gadia said. “It’s kind of sad it took 25 years, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to have this experience as an adult.’’