The ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Team Took a Crazy Chance on Theaters

By Sameer Rao Aug 02, 2018

Director Jon M. Chu ("Now You See Me 2") and the entirely Asian cast of "Crazy Rich Asians" seem ready for success as the film’s promotional tour charges full force towards its August 15 premiere. As part of that push, Chu joined lead performers Constance Wu ("Fresh Off the Boat"), Michelle Yeoh ("Star Trek: Discovery") and newcomer Henry Golding on the cover of the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter (THR). 

THR’s cover package, published online yesterday (August 1), chronicles the film’s genesis and production. The article notes that Chu and Kevin Kwan, the author of the bestselling novel that inspired the movie, waded into uncertain waters by releasing the film theatrically through Warner Bros. (whose CEO, Kevin Tsujihara, is the only Hollywood studio head of Asian descent). The pair told THR that they went with Warner Bros. after Netflix offered them a package most artists can only dream of: "complete artistic freedom, a greenlighted trilogy and huge, seven-figure-minimum paydays for each stakeholder, upfront," they detailed.

"I could have moved to an island and never worked another day," Kwan said.

The pair rejected the certainty of a large payday and instead decided to gamble on Warner Bros., who offered an untold sum—and the risk of a theatrical release that might not attract audiences. "I could sense every lawyer on the call shaking their heads: ‘Ugh, these stupid idealists,’" Kwan said. "But Jon and I both felt this sense of purpose. We needed this to be an old-fashioned cinematic experience, not for fans to sit in front of a TV and just press a button."

Moreover, they wanted to prove that a romantic comedy with an Asian cast and director, set in contemporary Asia instead of a romanticized past, could perform extremely well at domestic and international box offices. "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," says Chu. "To be on the biggest stage with the biggest stakes, that’s what we asked for."

Check out the full story, as well as video interviews with members of the "Crazy Rich Asians" cast, at