After all the hype and all the speculation, Crazy Rich Asians opened in Mainland China on Friday. It’s perhaps not an out-and-out flop just yet, but its opening weekend has not gone well. Jon M. Chu’s movie version of Kevin Kwan’s novel had taken just 6.57 million RMB (around 944,000 USD) by noon on Sunday China time.
The number of screens the film is showing on across the country was also reportedly halved over the course of the weekend, as it became clear audiences were largely greeting the arrival of the film with indifference — or perhaps had already seen it given it’s been screening overseas and been available in pirate DVD shops in China for months. Indie flick A Cool Fish has instead enjoyed more interest at Chinese cinemas this weekend, even though it’s been screening for several weeks already.
For the reasons outlined in the above article, it’s hardly a surprise that Chinese audiences haven’t responded with the same fervor the film experienced in the US. On review site Douban, the film currently has a rating of 6.2 out of 10, with many reviewers citing its Singapore focus and “Americanized” vision of Asia as reasons for low scores.
If you strip away the identity issues, cinemagoers here are left with a rom-com (of which they’re hardly in short supply of) featuring actors they don’t particularly know. Add in the delay in getting it to general release here meaning any who was really excited has likely seen it overseas or on a pirated copy by now, and Crazy Rich Asians‘ less than spectacular opening weekend in China is far from a surprise.
Perhaps anticipating this, the marketing campaign for the film in China was fairly low-key and it may be that this was something of a token release in the hopes that it will help Warner Bros secure safe passage for the movie’s China-set sequel. China Rich Girlfriend has already been given the green light to be turned into a movie as well, and there are rumors that it may well be filmed in Shanghai. Depending on the treatment, that film could well stand a better chance at becoming a hit at the world’s biggest box office.
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