Caixin
Oct 17, 2018 07:23 PM
SOCIETY & CULTURE

Hit U.S. Movie ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Wins Surprise China Release

* Adaptation of best-selling novel has netted $228 million at the box office worldwide

* Observers had wondered if the film’s depictions of the immense wealth would pass regulatory muster

(Beijing) — A much-hyped Hollywood movie, “Crazy Rich Asians,” has finally been granted a release date in China after weeks of speculation that its portrayal of the antics of extremely rich ethnic Chinese in Singapore would seal its fate with local regulators.

“The romcom has been scheduled for a release on Nov. 30!” Warner Bros. announced on its official Twitter-like Weibo account on Tuesday. The post described the movie as a story about love and family relationships, as well as “scheming, yachts, parties and living in the clouds.”

The blockbuster hit has been hailed as a milestone for Hollywood at a time when it is under fire for a lack of diversity in its productions. “The Joy Luck Club,” released 25 years ago, was the last major Hollywood film with an all-Asian ensemble.

“Crazy Rich Asians” has netted $228 million at the worldwide box office, according to CNN, after being released in North America on Aug. 15 and later the same month in parts of Asia.

Observers, however, have cast doubt over whether the film’s depictions of the immense wealth of a group of ethnic Chinese would sit well with Chinese regulators that promote “core socialist values.”

From movies and TV dramas to mobile apps, regulators have vetted, filtered out, or clamped down on productions that they have deemed to be straying from mainstream values. A recent case in July saw the State Administration of Radio and Television demand that provincial offices form groups of “experts” to vet online talent shows before they aired, a move it said would prevent content from becoming “overly entertaining” and “advocating money worship.”

Also, “Crazy Rich Asians” had to fight for a coveted spot in the world’s second-largest movie market that allows only 34 foreign films to be screened each year.

Adapted from a best-selling novel by a Singaporean author living in New York, “Crazy Rich Asians” is the story of an Asian-American professor who only discovers her Singapore-born boyfriend’s incredible wealth after joining him for a wedding in his home country.

Despite passing regulators’ scrutiny, the movie’s box office in China may not live up to its overseas hype.

“The film may not fare as well in China as in other markets,” said Niu Hongying, a journalism and mass communications professor at Shaanxi Normal University in Northwest China. “Chinese viewers have grown more discerning since the domestic film industry has taken off and produced higher quality productions,” she said.

Chinese have been watching movies starring their own countrymen, some of whom have made a mark internationally, so the film’s Asian cast might not strike a chord, other critics have said.

Contact reporter Jason Tan (jasontan@caixin.com)

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