One would think that a movie featuring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Sean Penn and other well-known actors and actresses would easily perform well in the box office. As it turns out, Gangster Squad, a 2013 movie featuring the three of them, was far from a success.
On the other hand, Crazy Rich Asians, has taken top place in the box office this weekend,
despite having a lesser-known, all-Asian cast. In the first five days since the movie debuted on Wednesday, it made over $34 million, which exceeded industry expectations by $9 million.
The rom-com tells the story of Rachel Chu, an NYU economic professor who falls in love with Nick Young, the heir to an especially affluent family living in Singapore.
Prior to Crazy Rich Asians, the last movie with an all-Asian movie premiered 25 years ago.
Kevin Kwan, the author of the best-selling book, and Jon M. Chu, the director of the film, were tempted at first to give up the film rights to Netflix, who offered them an opportunity to produce a trilogy of the flim and a seven-figure minimum figure paycheck for each of the cast members. At the last minute the two decided to give up the rights to Warner Bros. “We needed this to be an old-fashioned cinematic experience, not for fans to sit in front of a TV and just press a button,” Kwan said.
Despite the romantic comedy’s success it has received backlash for not including other minorities which reside in Singapore, where the majority of the movie takes place. One Twitter user tweeted:
As much as I’m excited for #CrazyRichAsians, I also wonder why isn’t there any browns (esp. South Asians & Southeast Asians) in the movie? Are we not Asian? It’s more like #CrazyRichMongoloids 😭
— Leeynesh Prakash (@leeynesh_argent) April 24, 2018
Meanwhile another user tweeted:
#CrazyRichAsians is here and it’s important that we make a box office splash and go watch this movie. Does it tell MY story of my cultural upbringing in America? No. But is it the first major stepping stone in 25 years towards more Asian representation in Hollywood? Hell yes.
— Jimmy (@jfwong) August 10, 2018
Overall, many Asian-Americans shared the views of Ashley Lee who tweeted:
a studio movie with an all-Asian cast, none of whom are doing any martial arts moves or leaning into subservient stereotypes but instead are t h r i v i n g in designer decadence and universal attractiveness, is a pipe dream come true. HERE FOR THIS, #CrazyRichAsians!! https://t.co/xOnO936meR
— Ashley Lee (@cashleelee) April 19, 2018
That being said, Crazy Rich Asians has demonstrated the overall demand for increased diversity in films.
“This shows — once again, with emphasis — that true diversity matters,” Brad Simpson, a “Crazy Rich Asians” producer, wrote in an email to the New York Times on Sunday. “Audiences are tired of seeing the same stories with the same characters. And we have to give people a reason to get off their couch or devices. We have to give them something different.”