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‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Joins ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ as a Box Office Triple Threat

The last true romantic comedy to stay on top three weekends in a row was 1990’s ‘Pretty Woman.’
By  · Published on September 4th, 2018

For the third weekend in a row, Crazy Rich Asians topped the box office. The romantic comedy sold another 2.4 tickets from Friday to Sunday, its drop in attendance only 10.9% from the previous weekend, cementing it as one of the leggiest movies of the year so far and pushing its domestic gross over the $100 million mark. With Labor Day thrown in, Crazy Rich Asians drew more than 3 million people over the four-day holiday weekend.

The last film to rule the box office for three weekends straight was Avengers: Infinity War. And the only other two movies to do so were Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Black Panther. Obviously, Crazy Rich Asians is very different from those effects-driven tentpoles. However, triple threats at this time of year aren’t rare. Last year, The Hitman’s Bodyguard had its third weekend at number one over Labor Day weekend, too.

Another thing that should be clarified about Labor Day weekend is the claim that 2018 saw the best box office for this time in years. That’s not true, as the total attendance of 13.2 million is fairly low for the 21st century, in fact, even if it’s much improved over 2017. Even its gross without adjusting for inflation is only higher than the totals for 2017 and 2015.

But this only because moviegoing as a whole wasn’t up. Moviegoing for Crazy Rich Asians, in particular, was quite special. The Kevin Kwan adaptation was not only the best Labor Day weekend topper in more than a decade — since the Halloween remake in 2007 — but it places sixth on the chart for best Labor Day weekend attendance ever, also trailing The Sixth Sense, The Fugitive, Transporter 2, and Jeepers Creepers 2. Despite the weekend overall being way down compared to 2014, Crazy Rich Asians sold more tickets than that year’s number one, Guardians of the Galaxy.


For the rom-com genre, the box office feat is remarkable. The last rom-com title to win the Labor Day weekend was Bring It On in 2000. The last rom-com to even top the box office for three consecutive weekends was Pretty Woman in 1990. That’s if we don’t include 1991’s The Fisher King, which could be argued is part rom-com, and 2003’s Bringing Down the House, which Box Office Mojo doesn’t firstly label as a rom-com but includes in its all-time rom-com box office chart. A chart that so far Crazy Rich Asians places 60th on, attendance-wise, after three weeks.

Crazy Rich Asians is the first movie with an all-Asian cast to top the Labor Day weekend since Zhang Yimou’s wuxia film Hero dominated the US box office in 2004. But a big difference between now and then, besides the fact that Crazy Rich Asians sold 3 million tickets versus Hero‘s 1.8 million, is that in 2018, the Asian-led box office champion doesn’t stand alone. Joining Crazy Rich Asians in the top five are Searching, which stars John Cho, and The Meg, the female romantic lead of which is played by Li Bingbing with second-billing status.

Asian representation was especially in full force on Friday, when Searching expanded into wide release and came in third place for the day. So, the top three titles at the box office for at least one day all had Asian actors in the lead. And this wasn’t just a matter of Chinese actors being prominent for Chinese box office appeal. Searching‘s cast is predominantly Korean-American and focuses on a Korean-American family. Crazy Rich Asians, though featuring a lot of Chinese and Chinese-American actors, is more mixed in its inclusion and also was made because its source material, Kwan’s novel, is a best seller in North America.

Speaking of Chinese box office being important, though, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which has just passed the $200 million mark in North America yet remains only the fifth-best of six for the franchise domestically (with the movies’ grosses being adjusted for inflation), the latest in the series just had a huge opening in China, better than Rogue Nation, and that nation’s moviegoers should help push the sequel to the top for the franchise’s worldwide success.

Here are Labor Day weekend 2018’s top 10 titles by the number of tickets sold with new and newly wide titles in bold and totals in parentheses:

1. Crazy Rich Asians – 3 million (12.5 million)
2. The Meg – 1.4 million (13.2 million)
3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout – 1 million (22 million)
4. Operation Finale – 0.83 million  (1 million)
5. Searching – 0.82 million (0.9 million)
6. Christopher Robin – 0.7 million (9.3 million)
7. Alpha – 0.6 million (3.1 million)
8. The Happytime Murders – 0.59 million (1.9 million)
9. BlacKkKlansman – 0.56 million (4.2 million)
10. Mile 22 – 0.49 million (3.5 million)

All non-forecast box office figures via Box Office Mojo.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.