‘Happytime Murders’ Arrests $950K In Previews; ‘Crazy Rich’ Counts $52M; ‘Meg’ Jumping To $100M – Thursday B.O.

STX Entertainment’s R-rated Melissa McCarthy puppet comedy The Happytime Murdersone of summer’s last wide releases, collected $950K previews at 2,500 locations.

That’s a better result than McCarthy’s PG-13 comedy Life of the Party back in May, which posted a $700K Thursday night from 2,900 locations on its way to a $4.9M Friday and $17.9M opening weekend. The pic, directed by McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone, off a B CinemaScore wound up with a 2.9 multiple stateside with $52.8M. Happytime Murders’ Thursday night isn’t that far from McCarthy’s R-rated The Boss from April 2016, which drew $985K at 2,533 theaters and continued on to a $8M Friday, $23.5M weekend. Too soon to tell if Happytime even smiles that wide. Unlike Sausage Party which was propelled by young males, females on tracking have the edge here with Happytime given McCarthy’s fanbase. Other McCarthy preview nights include Ghostbusters (PG-13, $3.4M), Spy (R, $1.5M), and the Sandra Bullock cop comedy The Heat (R, $1M), Happytime Murders expands to 3,256 theaters today. The Brian Henson-directed comedy cost $40M before P&A with a consortium of financiers.

Despite the entry of Happytime Murders, which is expected to earn $13M-$15M, Warner Bros.’ multi-generational hit romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians is expected to remain golden in its second weekend with $16M-$18M, -36%, for a running total by Sunday of $69.8M. On Thursday, the Jon M. Chu film grossed $3.6M, -2% from Wednesday for a nine-day total of $51.8M.

Definitely by Sunday, possibly by Saturday, Warner Bros./China Gravity’s The Meg will cross $100M, becoming Jason Statham’s sixth starring role feature to do so. Yesterday, Meg earned $1.4M, -23% from Wednesday for a current running total of $92.3M.

Following bad news at Global Road that the banks have taken over their domestic theatrical production and distribution ops, they’re opening robot dog movie A.X.L. (what does that even mean?) at 1,695 theaters with an expected disastrous result of $2M-$3M.

STX’s Mile 22 ended its first week with $19.1M, after a $1M Thursday, -6% from Wednesday. Lower down the charts, Studio 8/Sony’s Alpha grossed $715K last night, -32% from Wednesday, for a $14.5M first week.

Sony has in limited release Searching in 9 venues; an unconventional thriller that Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisition snapped up at Sundance (when it was titled Search). The studio will go wider with the title on Aug. 31. Pic marks the feature directorial debut of 27-year-old Asian American helmer Aneesh Chaganty, and stars a largely Asian cast. In Searching, John Cho plays a desperate father whose 16-year-old daughter goes missing; he breaks into her laptop to search for clues.

Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding and director Chu are supporting Searching and promoting a #GoldOpen for the movie and buying out a theater so that audiences can see it.

Me and @jonmchu were at the theatre surprising audience members, but had to stop off at a @johnthecho poster for @searchingmovie. We both decided to buy out a cinema when it comes out and spread the support we have been receiving for CRA #GoldOpen… Can't wait to see it, coming soon!! ?❤️

A post shared by Henry Golding (@henrygolding) on

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