I LOVE the book (part 2 China Rich Girlfriend, part 3 Rich People Problems) so I’m thrilled & excited to watch Crazy Rich Asians on its opening day this Wednesday (Aug 15th, 2018). (Aug 15th night update: Just watched the movie and LOVED it!) (Note: May add more to this post later.)
LA Times, The Crazy Road to “Crazy Rich Asians”
At press time the film has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97% fresh (when the review count is 39). Some extra info and film reviews:
– Kevin Kwan’s Instagram post, “[my dear friend Vivian’s] stories inspired me when I created the character of Rachel Chu and her family. Jon M. Chu, the director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” was one of the cousins Vivian had been talking about for so many years. I never dreamed that he would one day direct the film based on my book, a film with a heroine who is inspired by the women in his own family. Last night, it all came full circle in this photo – the first time Vivian, Jon, and I were all together in one place.”
– Rolling Stone, “In the guise of a bouncy romcom about insanely gorgeous rich kids enjoying their privileges, Crazy Rich Asians is making history: It’s the first Hollywood film in 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast. (The last one: 1993’s The Joy Luck Club.) Singapore-born author Kevin Kwan has said that he wrote the 2013 bestseller on which the film is based “to introduce a contemporary Asia to a North American audience.” Now the film version, which is shaping up as the comedy to see this summer, is bringing it all home in a hilarious, heartfelt blast that aims to change the state of cultural representation in mainstream, multiplex-friendly cinema.“
– IndieWire, “The dilemma at the crux of “Crazy Rich Asians” is whether pleasing parents should take precedence over staying true to oneself. With his ninth feature, director Jon M. Chu was fortunate enough to do both. His mom and dad “always told me to do movies about my culture, about China, about where I come from, and I’m the one who always moved away from it,” he said in a recent phone interview. “When you’re the only Asian person in the room, the last thing you want to talk about is you being Asian. It’s a very sensitive, delicate part of your life that’s hard to share.””
LA Times (great reporting with video), “‘Crazy Rich Asians’: Why the historic Hollywood rom-com matters”
“In your own words: What’s your Hollywood story?
I was born on the island of Singapore and I grew up there until I was 11 years old, when I was forcibly removed by my dad and planted into suburban Houston. I was in shock for the first year and then began to really love it — but didn’t love it quite enough to stay. My golden dream was to move to New York and live in the Village and become that cool, rebel beatnik Jack Kerouac.
I moved to New York and went to art school at Parsons School of Design. Became a photographer. Became a creative consultant. Did many things and was in denial for about 20 years that there was a story I wanted to tell. But one day I began writing and began telling my story, never expecting that anyone would want to read it … and even before it was published producers were calling wanting to know whether they could make it into a movie.
So I think I’ve sort of accidentally stumbled into Hollywood. And it’s been an amazing roller coaster ride ever since.“
“In your own words: What’s your Hollywood story?
I am from Richmond, Va. The theater became my second home, so much so that I made the some might say irresponsible decision to go to drama school and study acting at a conservatory. I was in New York for a few years being a theater actor — but actually more being a waitress.
I booked a ticket one way to L.A., and then I continued to be a waitress. Then I auditioned for a show called “Fresh Off the Boat” and it was huge to so many people.
It was the first network show in over 20 years to center on an Asian American family’s experience. There was a lot of talk and noise and buzz around it, but at the end of the day the thing that I loved about it is that it’s something that kids can watch with their families and feel like their stories matter.
When the opportunity came to do “Crazy Rich Asians” I was so happy that it was happening and I wanted to be a part of it — but I just wanted it to happen. And I’m really lucky that I got the part of Rachel and that Jon believed in me, and that he had such a great vision for it, and hopefully it’ll do really well.“
“In your own words: What’s your Hollywood story?
My mom’s from Taiwan. My dad’s from mainland China. They came over when they were 19, 20 years old. I’m the youngest of five kids from the Silicon Valley — Los Altos Hills, California, to be specific.
They started a restaurant called Chef Chu’s. Fifty years, next year. My dad works every day, and they always taught us that America’s the greatest place in the world: If you work hard and focus on what you do, you can be the best and you can do anything you want.
I went to USC film school, made a bunch of shorts there. Luckily, I got discovered off of my musical short “When the Kids Are Away,” and I started making movies. It’s kind of an insane Cinderella story.
I got a call from Steven Spielberg on a Friday night and got my catapult into the business. I’ve done a bunch of movies, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago where I really questioned what kind of movies I wanted to make. I found “Crazy Rich Asians” and I feel like this is the beginning of my Chapter Two.”
P.S. Some extra stuff related to the film or the cast members.
– A heart warming tweet by Awkwafina: Thank you guys for believing in Awkwafina.
“The secret weapon of Jon M. Chu’s deliriously entertaining and slyly insightful rom-com Crazy Rich Asians (out today from Warner Bros, and if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, do that now) isn’t Henry Golding, the film’s debonair leading man, in his big-screen debut. It isn’t Constance Wu, the film’s lovably acerbic protagonist. It isn’t even everyone’s fave breakout star this summer, the rapper/actor Awkwafina. Nor is it the luminescent Gemma Chan, the absolutely perfect Michelle Yeoh, or the brilliantly unholy comic trinity of Ken Jeong, Jimmy O. Yang, and Ronny Chieng.
No, the ace card in Crazy Rich Asians‘ loaded hand is its soundtrack, which combines nostalgic Chinese big-band jazz numbers from the swinging sixties with tongue-twisted remakes of American pop classics (a Cantonese-language version of Madonna’s “Material Girl,” anyone?) to weave what Chu calls an “eclectic tapestry of old, new and remixed favorites.”
“I wanted to take hit American songs and make them Chinese, to give audiences a sense of how we feel as Asian Americans,” Chu tells Quartz. “That crazy blend of identities and cultures that makes up who we are. It felt to me like a critical part of what we were trying to do.”
The centerpiece of Chu’s remix playlist is a Chinese version of a song by the British band Coldplay, its first real breakout, titled “Yellow” (video). The name itself was enough to cause head-shaking at Warner Bros, when connected with the first US studio film with an all-Asian cast in 25 years. Though the song is not about race, the term “yellow” is fraught with negative associations: It’s identified with cowardice, with illness, with fake news. For Asians, it’s frequently used as a slur, a reference to the color of Asian skin, used in ominous phrases like “yellow peril.” Chu himself says he remembers being called yellow in a “derogatory way throughout high school.”
Some at the studio were concerned that the song would evoke these stereotypes, Chu says. “They were like, ‘Whoa, we can’t do that, what do you think people will say?’ And I told them, ‘Well, a white director couldn’t do it.’”
He convinced the studio. “All credit to them, I said, ‘Guys trust me on this one’ and they gave in,” laughs Chu. But getting Coldplay on board was harder. The band had been taken to task for cultural appropriation following the lurid video for 2012’s “Princess of China,” which put Rihanna in exotic orientalist drag, and again in 2016’s “Hymn for the Weekend,” which was shot in India during the festival of Holi, and featured Beyonce in traditional Indian garb. Coldplay rejected the request to use “Yellow” as soon as it was submitted.
The rejection prompted Chu to write the band a direct letter, explaining his love for the song, and “complicated relationship” with its title. “For the first time in my life, it described the color in the most beautiful, magical ways,” Chu wrote. “The color of the stars, her skin, the love. It was an incredible image of attraction and aspiration that it made me rethink my own self image.” Allowing him to use the song in the movie, Chu wrote, would give a “a whole generation of Asian-Americans, and others, the same sense of pride I got when I heard your song.”
Within an hour, the band emailed him back, granting him permission. As promised, Chu triumphantly features it, unmistakably Sinified, as the film’s final song, during its protagonist’s climactic moment of self-realization. Sung in Mandarin by the Chinese-American YouTuber and The Voice contestant Katherine Ho, it swells anthemically beneath visuals of protagonist Rachel Chu coming to recognize that she’s strong enough to move forward.“
Ref: Coldplay – Yellow
Crazy Rich Asians Soundtrack – Material Girl (200 Du) – Sally Yeh //Cantonese-language version of Madonna’s “Material Girl,” anyone?
“The first time I saw Margaret Cho on Comedy Central, she was like a unicorn. She was an Asian woman who had a perfect American accent, something I wasn’t used to seeing. And she was so funny and unashamed and bold. I remember thinking, “That is what I want to be.” Just seeing her made it seem slightly more possible. And then Lucy Liu in “Charlie’s Angels” and Michelle Yeoh in her action movies. When you don’t have representation growing up, you don’t know how to materialize your dreams. You don’t even know it’s possible.“
– LA Times Entertainment, “Writer @AdeleBLim pulled from her childhood experiences to adapt #CrazyRichAsians & took it seriously: “Important doesn’t begin to describe it—when you’re talking about describing a culture and a family, you want it to come from an authentic perspective””
LA Times Entertainment, (Great tweet thread with many videos), “When @CrazyRichMovie opens Wednesday, it’ll mark the 1st studio film in 25 years to tell a contemporary story centered on an all-Asian cast. Here, the cast & creators discuss their own crazy, diverse journeys to Hollywood & the significance of this moment”
“Adele Lim, co-writer of “Crazy Rich Asians,” admitted at the Writers Guild of America West’s Behind the Screen reception that adapting the romantic comedy had been nerve-wracking.
“Everyone came up to me and said ‘this must be so wonderful’ but I went to bed completely wracked with panic every night feeling like if I screw this up, Asians aren’t going to get another movie for 20 years,” she said poolside at the Hotel Wilshire in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening.“
THR, “Box-Office Preview: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Preps for $26M-Plus Walk Down the Aisle” – “… Crazy Rich Asians is now tracking to post a five-day debut of $26 million-plus, according to the latest prerelease surveys. That’s up from $20 million several weeks ago.”
CNN Travel, Nice pix, “The ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ guide to Singapore”
“Chu has said that he relates to his film’s heroine, an Asian American discovering her cultural identity. Little did he know how much he had in common with her. Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians contains a reference to Rachel Chu’s extended family in Cupertino, Calif, and a cousin who made it big in Hollywood making movies. As it so happens, the director’s family also hails from the Bay Area, a coincidence that he pointed out to Kwan when the two finally met for the film project. “Kevin’s like, ‘No, I am talking about you,'” Chu says.
As it turns out, Kwan was very good friends with Chu’s New York-based cousin Vivian, who often spoke fondly of her family back west. When all three finally came together for Chu’s July 27 wedding, Kwan reflected on the moment in an Instagram post: “More than ten years ago, my dear friend Vivian in New York started telling me stories about how she grew up in Northern California amongst all her cousins… her stories inspired me when I created the character of Rachel Chu and her family,” he wrote. “I never dreamed that [Jon] would one day direct the film based on my book, a film with a heroine who is inspired by the women in his own family.”“
Here is a piano version of Kina Grannis’ cover:
– 2017 June, “Artist Kina Grannis Joins ‘Crazy Rich Asians’”
– via @JonMChu, [GREAT thread!] “Required reading: this thread is so true. News isn’t news unless the news makes it news. APA writers fought for us and made it the movement it has become. So much love and respect to all of you. We see you.”
– LOVE @awkwafina in the film! via @IMDb #NoSmallParts takes a look at the eclectic career of @awkwafina, the breakout star in #CrazyRichAsians.
– I LOVE Gemma, she is so cool in Humans (a must watch SciFi)! via @IMDb “#CrazyRichAsians star @gemma_chan gets real about her favorite movies, her desire for a #QueerEye makeover, and her biggest TV character crush. @CrazyRichMovie”
20 Aug, 2018, THR, “‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Box Office: The Secret Behind the Massive Opening”
“The movie spiked in metropolitan areas with large Asian-American populations, including the San Francisco Bay Area, greater New York and Los Angeles.
Crazy Rich Asians succeeded in doing crazy great business in Asian markets across the country, led by greater Los Angeles, the Bay Area in Northern California and the New York City metropolitan area. All three are regions where more Asian-Americans live than in any other part of the country, according to U.S. Census data. […]
Theaters in the greater Los Angeles area — which boasts the most Asian-Americans of any area in the U.S. — over-indexed by 45 percent and contributed 21 percent of the total opening gross. The Bay Area over-indexed by a whopping 75 percent and contributed 10 percent of the bottom line. The New York metro area over-indexed by 36 percent and accounted for 9 percent of the $34 million.
Among other locales, Crazy Rich Asians also over-indexed in Hawaii, San Diego, the Washington D.C./Northern Virginia region, Austin, Boston, Houston, Washington state, Toronto and Vancouver, where there is likewise a significant Asian population.
“The top 50 theaters behaved as if this movie were a $70 million film in terms of how much they over-performed,” says Warners distribution chief Jeff Goldstein.“
Last Update: Aug 29, 2018