The film fronted by an all-Asian cast further proves that diversity sells in the box office.
Crazy rich payday.
Hollywood’s hottest film, “Crazy Rich Asians” — fronted by an all-Asian cast — the first to do so since Disney’s “Joy Luck Club” in 1993 — took home an estimated $25.3 million over the weekend, topping the box office at theaters in the U.S. and Canada.
The romantic comedy, distributed by Warner Bros, has raked in a total of $35 million since it hit the big screen on Aug. 15 in more than 3,384 locations. The film, which cost an estimated $30 million to make, is the first rom-com in three years to debut with more than $20 million, Reuters reported. “Crazy Rich” made major waves over other films at the box office including shark thriller “The Meg,” which earned $21.5 million, and Mark Wahlberg’s “Mile 22” opened with $13.6 million in 3,482 theaters.
“Crazy Rich Asians” director, Jon M. Chu, was blown away by the turn out, tweeting that audience reception exceeded his expectations and proved that diversity sells big time.
3/America fell in love w/our kickass all-Asian cast of many different background, styles, shapes, sizes ages…& blew the lid off the expectation at 34 million dollars since we were released. Truly a #GoldOpen . Thank u! I feel very lucky to be a small part of this giant movement
— Jon M. Chu (@jonmchu) August 19, 2018
“The fact that we had never shared a communal experience of joy, laughter and emotions at the movies like this has been an injustice. But now we have. And there’s no going back. #CrazyRichAsians is the number 1 movie in America. Yes we are. Read that again,” he wrote adding in a follow up tweet:
“America fell in love w/our kickass all-Asian cast of many different background, styles, shapes, sizes ages…& blew the lid off the expectation at 34 million dollars since we were released. Truly a #GoldOpen . Thank u! I feel very lucky to be a small part of this giant movement.”
The film’s producers took a major pay cut to make the film, turning down a reported massive paycheck from Netflix so that “Crazy Rich” would play on screens worldwide instead, because they believed that having Asian representation on the big screen was more important.
Kevin Kwan, who wrote the 2013 international bestselling novel of the same name, and director Chu made a deal with Warner Bros. for the movie distribution, and passed on a “gigantic payday” from Netflix.
“I could have moved to an island and never worked another day,” Kwan told the Hollywood Reporter of the deal he turned down.
Kwan and Chu’s 2016 Netflix partnership would have given them complete artistic freedom over a trilogy, plus seven-figure-minimum paydays for each stakeholder, according to THR. While Kwan and Chu were torn on the decision at first, they wanted to set a standard for greater Asian-American representation in Hollywood.
“Jon and I both felt this sense of purpose,” Kwan said. “We needed this to be an old-fashioned cinematic experience, not for fans to sit in front of a TV and press a button.”
“Crazy Rich Asians,” a rom-com based on the book that has sold more than a million copies in more than 20 languages, follows a Chinese-American professor who accompanies her boyfriend to Singapore and learns that her beau actually comes from a wealthy family and is inheriting a massive fortune. It’s expected to earn $20 million during its Aug. 15 opening weekend, according to THR.
SEE ALSO: Hollywood has made depressingly little progress with on-screen diversity
The push to bring the film starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Tan Kheng Hua, Lisa Lu and Ken Jeong to theaters is a much-needed win for inclusivity. Despite the success of recent films with diverse casts like “Get Out” and “The Big Sick,” Hollywood has a long way to go: In 2017, 70.7% of the 4,454 speaking characters in films were white, but only 12.1% were black, 6.2% were Hispanic, 4.8% were Asian and 3.9% were mixed-race, according to a recent study from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
Besides giving diverse audiences more stories featuring characters they can relate to, inclusivity is also better for the bottom line. This year’s “Black Panther,” the first mainstream superhero movie with an almost entirely black cast, became the first film in 2018 to hit $1 billion worldwide. And according to the 2016 Hollywood Diversity Report, which studied 200 major motion pictures released in 2014, the eight films released that year with a 41% to 50% minority cast earned a median global box office gross of $122.2 million, compared to the 55 films with minorities making up less than 10% of the cash earning less than half that at $52.6 million.
This article was originally published on Aug. 2, 2018 and has been updated.
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