Crazy Rich Asians is doing crazy well at the box office.
The romantic comedy has brought in $34 million since it opened in theaters on Wednesday. This weekend alone, it brought in $25.2 million.
The movie, produced by Warner Bros. and directed by Jon M. Chu, is the first major studio film with a majority Asian cast since Joy Luck Club 25 years ago. It currently has a 92% certified fresh rating on the film and television review website Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie is based on the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by by Singaporean American author Kevin Kwan. It follows Rachel Chu, a Chinese American professor played by actress Constance Wu, who goes to meet the family of her boyfriend Nick Young (played by Henry Golding) in Singapore. There, she realizes Nick’s family is incredibly wealthy — and they don’t think she’s good enough for him. The movie includes several other prominent Asian actors as well, including Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, and Ken Jeong.
According to Variety, Crazy Rich Asians is the first romantic comedy in almost three years to bring in more than $20 million in its opening. (The last movie was Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck.) CNN reports that it’s the first time a romantic comedy has even topped the box office since June 2014.
The creators of Crazy Rich Asians said they held out until they got the right offer for turning the book into a movie. One early offer suggested that they make Rachel Chu’s character a white woman instead. “It’s a pity you don’t have a white character,” the producer told Kwan. Another lucrative deal from Netflix was turned down because Kwan and Chu wanted to see the movie on the big screen.
“I could sense every lawyer on the call shaking their heads: ‘Ugh, these stupid idealists.’ Here, we have a chance for this gigantic payday instantaneously,” Kwan told The Hollywood Reporter. “But Jon and I both felt this sense of purpose. 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.”
“We were gifted this position to make a decision no one else can make, which is turning down the big payday for rolling the dice [on the box office] — but being invited to the big party, which is people paying money to go see us,” Chu added.
So far, it seems their decision has paid off. Many have also been sharing the importance of this movie and seeing someone like them on the big screen.
“It’s a foreign feeling to laugh at jokes that are actually written with me in mind, and mid-movie, it finally hits me how rare all of this actually is.,” wrote Ashely Lee in Bustle. “A recent USC Annenberg study of the most popular films of the past decade discovered that only 6.3 percent of speaking characters are of Asian descent.”
Kimberly Yam, an Asian Voices editor at HuffPost, also shared the importance of representation on screen in a Twitter thread that began when she was 8 years old. The tweet has been shared more than 100,000 times. (Click through for more.)
You’re 8 years old.
Your 3rd grade class orders chinese food & your father delivers it. You are so excited to see your pops in school. He’s your hero. But apparently other kids don’t think he’s so cool. They laugh at him and mimic his accent. You don’t want to be Chinese anymore. pic.twitter.com/6vW9DXZK6x
— Kimberly Yam (@kimmythepooh) August 18, 2018
“It’s not a movie, it’s a movement,” Chu said at an advanced screening of the movie. On Saturday, he revised his earlier declaration. He wrote on Twitter, “It’s not a movie or a movement.. it’s big frickin’ celebration all across the country!!”