The first Hollywood studio film to feature an all-Asian cast in 25 years is now the biggest romantic-comedy box office success in years.
Crazy Rich Asians raked in $25.3 million in the United States this weekend, the most for a rom-com since Trainwreck‘s opening weekend in 2015. In fact, since 2008, romantic comedies have only averaged about $16 million in their opening weekends. Including its first five days in theaters, Crazy Rich Asians totaled $34 million, earning the top spot in the US box office and far outstripping analysts’ initial prediction of $18 million in receipts over those five days. Its production budget was $30 million.
The film’s huge opening completely validates the filmmakers’ decision to turn down a lucrative Netflix deal in favor of a riskier theatrical release through a traditional studio (in this case, Warner Bros). Citing the success of recent films by black filmmakers, including Get Out and Black Panther, director Jon M. Chu told the Hollywood Reporter that he saw Crazy Rich Asians as an opportunity to prove that Asian-led stories can also succeed on the big screen: “To be on the biggest stage with the biggest stakes, that’s what we asked for,” he said. The gamble paid off.
Based on Kevin Kwan’s book of the same name, Crazy Rich Asians follows a Chinese-American economist who travels with her boyfriend to Singapore, where she discovers he’s a scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families. The film boasts a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, an “A” CinemaScore audience rating, and is blowing up on social media with hugely positive word-of-mouth.
Asian Americans came out in droves to watch the film. Nearly 40% of the audience for Crazy Rich Asians was Asian, the highest percentage for a Hollywood film in many years. Asian Americans accounted for 11% of frequent moviegoers in the US, as of 2016. They’re the demographic with the highest attendance per capita, going to the movies approximately 6.1 times per year, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.
Crazy Rich Asians is a resounding, unimpeachable victory for representation in Hollywood, one that will hopefully usher in an era of films by non-white filmmakers that tell the stories of non-white people. The film industry’s excuse that minority-led films don’t perform well financially has been exposed once again as the racist fraud it always was.