'Crazy Rich Asians' a Milestone for Hollywood Diversity

August 17, 2018

By Max Godnick

The summer box office is about to get even crazier.

The romantic comedy "Crazy Rich Asians" opened nationwide Friday and is already a hit with critics and audiences. The Warner Bros. movie has a 92 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is on track to make up to $27 million in its opening weekend, according to box-office analysts.

"I think it's probably going to surpass that just given the buzz and the hype," said Piya Sinha-Roy, the senior movies writer at Entertainment Weekly. "For I think a lot of people, this is just going to hit all the things they wanted for an end of summer romance."

"Crazy Rich Asians" is the first Hollywood movie with an East Asian cast since 1993's "The Joy Luck Club." The ensemble features actors Constance Wu, Ken Jeong, Awkwafina, Henry Golding, and Michelle Yeoh. In an era where major studios have largely abandoned mid-budget comedies for blockbusters and sequels, the film serves as a welcome throwback and a significant step for progress.

There was "Black Panther," Marvel's first movie about a black superhero from a black director, that has become one fo the top 10 highest-grossing movie of all time, but it's an action movie, not a romantic comedy. "Crazy Rich Asians" represents a watershed moment for actors and stories not typically seen at the summer box office.

"The journey to get this made was actually pretty insane," said Sinha-Roy.

The path for more movies like "Crazy Rich Asians" may depend on how the film performs at the box office.

"I just really hope that studio executives, who for so long said that an East Asian cast could never lead a movie and that audiences weren't going to see it, I hope they're so proven wrong here," Sinha-Roy said.

Some fans have complained that the movie is "not Asian enough" and is limited in the types of characters and cultures it represents. "Crazy Rich Asians" is primarily about a wealthy subgroup of Singapore's Chinese ethnic majority. Wu, one of the stars of the movie, addressed the controversy on Twitter, acknowledging that the movie "won't represent every Asian American."

"This is such a massive area to cover, there's no way one film can represent everyone," Sinha-Roy said. "We just have to take each milestone as it comes."

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