'Crazy Rich Asians' buzz sends its box-office forecasts soaring

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Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures via YouTube

With the growing buzz surrounding "Crazy Rich Asians" and its groundbreaking all-Asian cast, the film is poised to generate nearly twice as much box-office revenue as initially expected.

Warner Bros., which is releasing the movie Wednesday, increased its five-day projection to $26 million, up from an estimate $18 million last month. And some independent forecasters are even more bullish. Box Office Mojo now expects the movie to take in $35 million through its first weekend in theaters.

It's not uncommon for movies with minority casts to exceed early expectations. Last year's "Girls Trip," a movie with a female, African-American ensemble, generated about 50 percent more in its debut than predicted. This year's "Black Panther" and 2017's "Get Out," which feature African-Americans in leading roles, also were bigger hits than initially projected.

With "Crazy Rich Asians," the hope is that a successful film about Asians and Asian-Americans will open the door to more such movies. Online ticket seller Fandango says that advance ticket sales are already outpacing those of "Girls Trip," which opened to $31 million last summer. They're also among the best results for a comedy release all summer, the company said.

Still, sales can be hard to predict. Just this weekend, prehistoric-shark thriller "The Meg" did better than expected, unseating the latest "Mission: Impossible" film from its No. 1 perch at the box office.

There has been a tendency by studios and box-office analysts to underestimate the draw of women and minorities appearing in movies. And that can affect decisions earlier in the process. Filmmakers often determine whether to greenlight a movie -- or give it a big budget -- based on the forecasts.

"Crazy Rich Asians" is being released almost exactly 25 years after "The Joy Luck Club," the last Hollywood film built around an all-Asian cast. Despite lacking representation in Hollywood, Asians tend to see more movies than average U.S. moviegoers, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

-- Bloomberg News

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