It’s a brave, if risky decision—and not just because the filmmakers’ payouts, based on percentages of profits, may not be as high. If the film falters at the box office, it could scare off studios from investing in similar films in the future, as unfair as that would be. Luckily, the film is tracking for an $18 million-plus opening ahead of its Aug. 15 release, according to Variety, well ahead of the openings of other recent rom-coms, like Overboard and Love, Simon.

“We can sugarcoat it all we want, but the moment you bring up an Asian-led movie, there’s one example to point to, and that’ll be us,” Chu told the Hollywood reporter. “To be on the biggest stage with the biggest stakes, that’s what we asked for.”

The example of several recent blockbuster successes by black filmmakers seem to have informed the decision. “You can look at Get Out, you can look at Black Panther—it changes the whole economics of the business when movies like that succeed,” Jacobson said. “It meant something to us to become a ‘comp’ for somebody else.”

In a Facebook post, one of the film’s stars, Constance Wu, compared the uphill battle of Asians in Hollywood with that of black filmmakers, quoting director Ava DuVernay: “‘I work in an industry that really has no regard for my voice and the voice of people like me and so, what do I do? Keep knocking on that door or build your own house?'”

“My dear Asian American friends, we are building our own damn houses,” Wu wrote. “We got the tools, the ability and we definitely got the style.”

The Crazy Rich Asians team’s decision to put the film out in theaters instead of opting for streaming also underscores Netflix’s inconsistency as a film distributor. The theatrical experience is still extremely important to many filmmakers, and until the streaming service warms up to the idea of showing more of its movies in theaters before they hit the internet, it could continue to lose out on projects like this one, despite its deep pockets and promises of creative independence.

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