The landmark movie “Crazy Rich Asians” has been breaking records and garnering international attention since before its debut. Released in August 2018, the film is based on Kevin Kwan’s satirical look on affluent families in Asia, he himself having come from a crazy rich family. The film is Hollywoods first majority-Asian cast in 25 years, the last being the Joy Luck Club.
Not only has it received mass-market praise, but it’s also been an important step for the representation of Asians worldwide. The numbers speak for itself, in the world’s largest movie market, US and Canada, it pulled more than $165 Million in September. Crazy Rich Asians has surpassed 2009’s The Proposal and 2008’s Sex and the City, two romantic comedies that reigned in their time. Across the globe, the film, which cost about $30 million to make, has earned more than $218 million to date.
Nowadays, you rarely see romantic comedies grabbing headlines, they seem to follow the same old recycled cliches and audiences know what to expect. However, with the success of the film and the announcement of two more sequels, this may indicate a renewed interest in the genre. Netflix certainly predicted it with the release of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before which also features an Asian-American lead actress.
Crazy Rish Asians is doing more than just sparking the revival of a genre, it’s most important role is lamenting that Hollywood’s decades of whitewashing and even snubbing Asian actors in lieu of white actors (see Ghost in the Shell, Aloha) has been a big mistake and may have cost them millions. For years, Hollywood has believed that audiences only want to look at caucasian characters, with other ethnicities playing B personalities for comic relief. Now, more inclusive stories just mean good business, and one thing’s for sure, Hollywood only listens with its wallet.
In the past 3 years, films like Black Panther, Coco, Straight Outta Compton and Get Out have further disproved the long-standing myth that people of colour just ‘don’t sell’. Asian Americans working in the entertainment industry can breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing they have better opportunities than being typecast as the kung fu warrior or the awkward science nerd.
That doesn’t mean the issue of representation has been solved. Far from it actually, even a prospective producer on Crazy Rich Asians suggested casting a white woman as the lead. Can you imagine? There’s always a few stuck in the past…But with Kevin Kwan, the actors of Crazy Rish Asians and the fans of the series pushing for diversity, and a chance to see themselves represented on screen, old habits will begin to die hard.