By Caleb Mutua / Bloomberg
August 19, 2018

(Bloomberg) — ‘‘Crazy Rich Asians,’’ the first Hollywood film in almost a quarter century with a largely Asian cast, opened as the No. 1 weekend film in North American theaters, dispensing with last week’s winner “The Meg” and a new Mark Wahlberg picture.

Based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel with the same name, the Warner Bros. romantic comedy collected an estimated $25.2 million in U.S and Canadian theaters, researcher ComScore Inc. said in an email Sunday. That beat last weekend’s winner, ‘‘The Meg,’’ which landed in second place, and ‘‘Mile 22,’’ an action-thriller starring Wahlberg that opened in third.

Helped by advertising, good reviews and social-media buzz, “Crazy Rich Asians” is performing well above the studio’s early estimate of about $18 million for the five days ending Sunday. Minorities including Asians are underrepresented in front of the camera and behind, and advocacy groups have looked to the film to help break down barriers.

‘‘Crazy Rich Asians’’ stars Constance Wu as Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American economics professor accompanying her boyfriend Nick Young, played by Harry Golding, to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. Once there, she discovers the family is filthy rich and has to deal with his disapproving mother.

The two-hour film had a production budget of $30 million and was expected to take in as much as $25 million from Friday to Sunday for AT&T Inc’s newly acquired Warner Bros. division. Critics especially like the movie, with 92 percent recommending it, according to aggregator RottenTomatoes.com. ‘‘The Joy Luck Club’’ of 1993 was the last English-language Hollywood film that featured an all-Asian cast.

“The Meg,” in its second weekend, collected $21.2 million while ‘‘Mile 22,’’ from STX Entertainment, pulled in $13.6 million. The latter film features Wahlberg as a tough-as-nails CIA officer tasked with smuggling a mysterious police officer wanted for espionage from an American embassy in Southeast Asia to a safe airfield for extraction. Analysts at Box Office Pro expected the action film to bring in $18 million. The film cost an estimated $35 million to make, according to Imdb.com

Critics didn’t like “Mile 22,” with just 22 percent recommending the film, according to RottenTomatoes.com.

The weekend’s other new release, ‘‘Alpha,’’ took in $10.5 million, above the $6 million predicted by Box Office Mojo. The Studio 8 release features a teenage boy who befriends a wolf to survive in the last Ice Age. The film, which opened in 2,719 theaters, was well-received, with 83 percent of critics recommending it.

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