The movie Crazy Rich Asians hit theaters this weekend and brought in an impressive $34 million over the weekend. This might not necessarily sound like a lot, given that Star Wars makes around $100 million (or more) on its opening weekends but in terms of context it kind of is. It’s the best performing comedy since last year’s Girls Trip, which went onto earn $115 domestically. Crazy Rich Asians has the power to do better based on this past weekend’s turnout.
Not only is it a great movie, this is a big deal. It’s been 25 years since The Joy Luck Club, which was also the last movie with an all-Asian cast. That’s far too long. I also think that it’s too bad that there hasn’t been more diverse movies in the last 25 years. It doesn’t necessarily have to be all Asian, or even one particular culture, but more diverse actors playing in these movies would be great. But now director Jon M. Chu’s movie, which is full of shining performances by Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat), Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8), Michelle Yeoh (Star Trek: Discovery), Gemma Chan (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), and newcomer Henry Golding, is here, and it’s on track to be the event movie of the summer.
You might remember that the movie The Help earned $169.7 million after its mid-August debut. While that doesn’t in itself mean that Crazy Rich Asians is on the same path because it’s far too early to say. But there is a long history of crowd-pleasing comedies opening in mid-August and slugging it out to the Oscars. Warner Bros. was originally planning on pushing A Star is Born to contend for the Oscars, but now they are thinking that Crazy Rich Asians might be a better contender for the new “popular movie” category. There’s also the issue about Black Panther being a contender for Best Picture, but this is a good problem to have.
What I really want to point out is the fact that diversity sells. I can’t keep saying it. Or maybe I shouldn’t have to keep saying it, but diversity sells. Think about the movies that have done well – Black Panther for example. What do it and Crazy Rich Asians have in common? Well, they have an extremely diverse cast. And that’s what people want to see, so why is Hollywood so dead set against creating more diverse movies?
Netflix has certainly helped to revive a dormant genre. Many romantic comedies have faltered at the box office in more recent years, the company has become a haven for the cute rom-coms. Recent titles including “Set It Up” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” which also features an Asian lead, have both sparked optimism about a return to form for rom-coms. This is definitely an underserved market for a demographic that reliably shows up to multiplexes, so I will ask the question once again – why is Hollywood so dead set against creating more diverse movies?