‘Crazy Rich Asians’ flops in China with 8th place box office debut

Hollywood’s racial diversity triumph, “Crazy Rich Asians” will be lucky to score more than $1 million in its opening weekend at the China box office.

Afternoon attendances on Friday had ranked the romantic comedy in fourth position. But by the evening it became apparent that mainstream Chinese audiences’ interest was barely flickering for a U.S. social phenomenon, that has few stars of significance in China, and which was served up several months after the rest of the world.

Estimates from local sources, point to the import opening only in eighth place over the weekend, with a performance far behind Chinese-made “A Cool Fish,” and still-potent “Venom.” The film earned some $410,000 on Friday and $400,000 on Saturday.

Although the film was a groundbreaking hit in the U.S. because of its all-Asian cast, it has few stars of significance in China. Its release in the Middle Kingdom also comes several months after the rest of the world. As the extent of the film’s disappointing performance at the box office became apparent, Chinese exhibitors reacted quickly, slashing the number of screenings per day about 32,000 on Friday to 18,700 on Saturday.

Large numbers of potential mainland Chinese viewers have already “Crazy Rich Asians” abroad or pirated online by this point. Others have been baffled by how what they see as a film full of Asian stereotypes could be celebrated as a coup for on-screen Asian representation.

“The plot is passable, the quality of the production is also fine, but I still wanted to vomit a bit,” one Chinese user wrote Sunday on major review platform Douban, where the film has a middling 6.2 out of 10 rating – mostly from people who saw the film months ago. “So Chinese people in the eyes of Europeans and Americans are just about clans, extravagant snobbery, a blind sense of superiority, and stubbornly clinging to outdated rules and ideas?” 

Another user dismissed it by saying it pandered to hot-button U.S. issues of ethnic identity and inclusion without depicting anything that felt recognizably Chinese to mainlanders: “Well, guess it keeps the Americans watching it happy.”

The film was released in August in North America and became a breakaway hit that scored $174 million. It also played strongly from September releases in much of East Asia, including a $5 million haul in Singapore, where most of the film is set.

But after Warner Bros. struggled to have “Crazy Rich Asians” obtain a coveted revenue-sharing import slot for China, it was unclear whether the effort was going to be worth it. The studio’s ultra-lowball benchmarks – likening “Crazy Rich Asians” to “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”, which launched in China in August and earned $602,000, and Amy Schumer’s “I Feel Pretty,” which was released in September and earned $206,000 – turned out to be the right ones.

Still, getting a release in China was important from the producers’ point of view. They aim to shoot the sequel, “China Rich Girlfriend,” at least partly in Shanghai, and possibly as a co-production.

17 PHOTOS
'Crazy Rich Asians' cast at the premiere
See Gallery
'Crazy Rich Asians' cast at the premiere
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Constance Wu attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asiaans' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Constance Wu arrives to the Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' held at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Henry Golding and Constance Wu arrive to the Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' held at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Gemma Chan attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asiaans' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Gemma Chan attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asiaans' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Actress Ming-Na Wen attends the premiere of Warner Bros Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' in Hollywood, California, on August 7, 2018. (Photo by JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP/Getty Images)
Actress/rapper Awkwafina attends the premiere of Warner Bros Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' in Hollywood, California, on August 7, 2018. (Photo by JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Randall Park attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asiaans' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Amy Cheng arrives to the Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' held at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
Actress Koh Chieng Mun attends the premiere of Warner Bros Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' in Hollywood, California, on August 7, 2018. (Photo by JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Selena Tan attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asiaans' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Actress Kris Aquino arrives for Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' Premiere held at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Executive Producer Kevin Kwan arrives for Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' Premiere held at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Actor Chris Pang arrives at the Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Henry Golding arrives to the Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' held at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Actress Victoria Loke arrives at the Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Michelle Yeoh attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asiaans' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story