EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros. held sneak previews last night for Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians literally a week before opening and sold out most of its 354 locations. What’s important to note here is that the previews were paid, not free, thus underscoring moviegoers’ want-to-see for the movie based on Kevin Kwan’s bestselling book.

At the last minute, theater chains were adding additional auditoriums for their 7PM showtimes to accommodate demand and in markets like Texas, Alabama, and New England. The cast led by Henry Golding, who plays the pic’s hunky wealthy squeeze Nick Young, showed up at the Century City AMC to the crowd’s delight (see tweet at bottom of post). This morning, Crazy Rich Asians hit Rotten Tomatoes and already has a 100% fresh score off 17 reviews.

Rivals estimate that Crazy Rich Asians drew around $450K-$500K and are impressed. The reporting of early sneak previews outside of Thursday night is fairly new for the industry, so there aren’t any comps.  Note that Crazy Rich Asians estimated screen average last night of $1,3K equals that of Hotel Transylvania 3‘s June 29 Amazon/Atom Tickets matinee sneak, even though that played at 1,000 theaters making $1.3M. In addition, Crazy Rich Asians on tracking is looking to play beyond its core demo to all female audiences with a 5-day opening between $18M-$21M. The pic opens next Wednesday.

Crazy Rich Asians tells the story of native New Yorker Rachel (Constance Wu) who meets her boyfriend Nick Young’s (Golding) huge family in Singapore, only to learn that they’re immensely rich.  While the two are destined to walk down the aisle, Rachel must then win the approval of Nick’s hardened mother (Michelle Yeoh) who looks down upon his new girlfriend because she’s American, and not of their class. Crazy Rich Asians is a landmark film in that it’s the first major studio Hollywood production (not counting titles from the sister classic labels) since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club to star an all Asian cast, center around an Asian American’s story and be directed by an Asian director. Much like Black Panther was a defining film for Black America on the big screen (it just notched $700M at the domestic box office, third highest of all-time), so is Crazy Rich Asians. It’s an important time for Asian American audiences to see their stories told on the big screen, and the film further moves the needle for inclusive storytelling in Hollywood.

See Wu’s tweet below.

 

Crazy Rich Asians cast last night at Century City AMC: