Russos close deal
When “Crazy Rich Asians” surpassed expectations and grabbed the top spot at the box office in its opening weekend, the film also pulled off another surprising feat: It put Asians of a certain age in theater seats.
Younger Asian-Americans have been flocking with their parents to see the first movie in 25 years with an all-Asian cast.
For many older, first-generation Asian immigrants, going to the movies doesn’t rank high among hobbies and interests. The crowds, the language barrier and ticket prices are often turnoffs.
But the appeal of “Crazy Rich Asians”, the story of a culture clash that erupts when an Asian-American woman from New York meets her boyfriend’s family in Singapore, has bridged a real-life generation gap.
Earning more than $40 million since its Aug 15 release, the film already has a sequel in development.
An adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel, the rom-com is poised to hit the $100 million mark due to its popularity and a lack of strong competition in the next month, comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said.
“The over-performance of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ shows the power of a great movie with universal themes to draw all audiences and also to break down preconceived notions of what can constitute a box office hit,” Dergarabedian said.
Broken down by ethnicity, Asians made up nearly 40 percent of the film’s audience during its opening weekend, Warner Bros said. By comparison, Asian/Pacific Islanders comprised just 10 percent of the audience in the opening days of last year’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, according to an analysis done by comScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak.
The jump can be partly credited to enthusiastic Asian-Americans who wanted their parents to be part of what the film’s star, Constance Wu, has called a “movement.” Lie Shia Ong-Sintzel, 36, of Seattle talked her parents into coming along the second time she saw the movie. It was the first time in five years the couple – Chinese immigrants from Indonesia – had been to the cinema.
“They don’t really go to movies in the theater. I usually have to drag them,” Ong-Sintzel said. “I felt like this was a big occasion – a movie with an all-Asian cast.”
Looking at her parents, she cried because everything from the acting to the food seemed to resonate more. She wasn’t the only one.
“I looked over again, my dad was wiping tears from his eyes,” Ong-Sintzel said.
In Temple City, California, Catherine Fanchiang, 27, who is Taiwanese-American, went to see the film a third time to keep her parents company.
Fanchiang’s mother, Kao Han Fan, also wanted to see the movie because she recognized Michelle Yeoh, who plays a wary matriarch. But it was Wu’s character who touched the 64-year-old the most. Fan said she liked how the story depicted an “ABC”, (American-born Chinese) who showed Asian cultural values such as putting family first.
“When you grow up in an Asian family … it will be in your mind when you do something, you will always think about other people,” Fan said. “You are not really, really selfish, thinking about yourself.”
Fanchiang enjoyed watching her parents see an American film with Asians that wasn’t a period piece.
“It was just a regular movie that just happens to have Asian people in it. It’s not like we’re ninjas or we’re good at fighting. It’s Asians existing in the modern world,” Fanchiang said.
The stars and director Jon M. Chu have said they wanted the film to showcase Asians who weren’t stereotypes or little-used side-players.
In the case of Alice Sue and her daughter, Audrey Sue-Matsumoto, the 67-year-old mother saw the movie first. She went a second time Thursday in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Daly City with her daughter. Sue, who is Chinese, doesn’t go to the movies much but knew she had to see this one.
“It’s talking about Asian culture. It’s real Asians mixed with American-born Asians,” Sue said. “And I want to support the Asian movies.”
Sue-Matsumoto, 35, said there probably wasn’t a more fitting film for the two to see together.
LOS ANGELES: “Crazy Rich Asians” producer Ivanhoe Pictures has struck a deal with producer-distributor Next Entertainment World (N.E.W.) for a Korean-language remake of Colombian psychological thriller “The Hidden Face”. The pair will co-finance, co-develop, and co-produce, ahead of an early 2019 production start.
The original 2011 feature centered on a young man who may be involved in his girlfriend’s mysterious disappearance. It was directed by Andres Baiz, with distribution and finance from Fox International Productions.
“We hope to deliver a smart thriller about a twisted love triangle and we believe this is the first of many projects on which we’ll partner,” said N.E.W.’s CEO Kim Woo-Taek in a statement. “This is an ideal opportunity to tell an engaging story for Korean viewers in a way that will thrill and excite,” said Ivanhoe’s president of international production, Michael Hogan.
LOS ANGELES: Joe and Anthony Russo have closed a deal for movie rights to Nico Walker’s novel “Cherry”, the story of an Army medic turned bank robber and addict with post-traumatic stress disorder, and will direct and produce.
Walker was arrested in 2011 and wrote “Cherry” while incarcerated. The book was acquired by Knopf and has debuted at No. 14 on The New York Times bestseller list.
The Russo brothers directed Disney-Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and are in post-production on the untitled sequel, due out next May. They also directed “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) and “Captain America: Civil War” (2016). The Russos will produce “Cherry” through their AGBO production company.
“Cherry” tells the story of a young man from an affluent family who marries his hometown girlfriend before joining the Army and shipping out to Iraq as an Army medic. When he returns home, he becomes a drug addict and gets into debt, leading to him robbing more than 10 banks before getting caught in 2011. He was sentenced to 11 years and is currently in a Kentucky federal prison. (Agencies)
By Terry Tang