Asians in Hollywood: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ a hit even before its premiere

China 24

Warner Bros. Pictures' "Crazy Rich Asians" Premiere - ArrivalsThe premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Crazy Rich Asiaans” at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images/AFP)

The long awaited romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians” based on the best selling book will open August 15. Not since “Joy Luck Club”, which came out 25 years ago, has a Hollywood movie featured an all-Asian cast so it’s no surprise that the film is being hailed as a movement. CGTN’s May Lee has more.

The highly anticipated film “Crazy Rich Asians” starring an all-Asian cast has been packing theaters even before its August 15 opening. Asian organizations and influencers have been buying out theaters for private screenings in a show of solidarity and support for this break through movie.  

There’s a very good reason why there’s such a concerted effort to get people to come out and see “Crazy Rich Asians” and it has to do with ticket sales. This is a major motion picture by a Hollywood studio so they have to get the crowds going to prove that an all Asian cast in a movie will sell. 

#Gold Open is being used as a call to action to boost opening weekend. This movement is being compared to the “Black Panther” phenomenon when the black community overwhelmingly supported the film. 

For “Crazy Rich Asians” screenwriter Adele Lim, the film is truly groundbreaking. 

“It never in a million years occurred to me that I would get to write about my culture for a major Hollywood movie” said Lim, “and I thought I’m going to do anything I can to make this happen. And just for context, I’ve been writing for TV for 16 years, I had never written a single TV show with an Asian lead.”

But there is one show on TV that’s been breaking down barriers going on five seasons…ABC’s ”Fresh Off the Boat”. 

Hudson Yang who plays Eddie Huang in the series recalls, “When I first started the show I thought ‘oh this is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this before and hopefully it’s going to be a stepping stone for more shows to come’ and it kinda was and now I still feel like Fresh off the Boat can be the same thing like, if someone can see success in Asians, push out more movies like Crazy Rich Asians, which was an amazing movie, then Asians can get a face out there and we can actually have an easier time.”

Hudson’s father Jeff Yang admits, no one expected the show to last this long and be so warmly embraced my mainstream audiences. “That acceptance, that sense that an Asian American story, Asian American faces, Asian American voices, that didn’t dissuade people from watching the show. So that gave a comfort zone for Hollywood to think that maybe these stories could play on a bigger screen.”

Bigger screen and on stage as well. East West Players is the oldest Asian American theater group in the U.S. whose mission has always been to give Asians an authentic voice.

Snehal Desai, producing-artistic director of East West Players, said “Often times I say that who we are when we walk into a room and who we are once we start talking are often times two different things and once people hear our voice they view us in a different light.”

With the hope that the light on Asians will grow bigger, brighter and bolder.

Can ‘Asian August’ help change culture of whitewashing in Hollywood?

CGTN’S Mike Walter speaks with Jamaal Finkley, the CEO and Executive Producer of BlackTree TV about the buzz surrounding the film “Crazy Rich Asian’s” and if Hollywood’s ‘Asian August’ can help battle the culture of whitewashing in the industry.