‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Goes Ignored at Chinese Box Office

Having an all-Asian cast isn’t a big deal to moviegoers in China

Crazy Rich Asians
Warner Bros

Movie audiences in China largely ignored Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians,” which opened this weekend in the lucrative market and only grossed $1.2 million.

It was a surprise for many Chinese box office analysts that the romantic comedy even got a release there. “Crazy Rich Asians” was approved for release by China’s film board last month, along with fellow WB titles “Aquaman” and “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” The film’s focus on extravagant wealth, often flaunted by Singapore elites who emigrated from China, was expected to be a dealbreaker for the Chinese government.

Instead, China’s film board approved the film without any cuts… but it has come and gone without many Chinese moviegoers noticing. While an all-Asian cast has made “Crazy Rich Asians” a major cultural landmark — there hasn’t been a film with such a cast since “The Joy Luck Club” a quarter-century ago — romantic comedies with all-Asian casts are a dime a dozen in China and other Asian markets. Even the presence of themes about honoring family — something that made “Coco” a big hit last year — didn’t move the needle.

Regardless, this result is hardly a knock against “Crazy Rich Asians” or Warner Bros. Jon M. Chu’s film is already a hit with $238 million grossed worldwide against a $30 million budget. There are already plans to develop a sequel, “China Rich Girlfriend,” though the studio is still a long ways from production, as Chu and the film’s cast have many other projects they are attached to.

Warner Bros., meanwhile, already has an overseas hit with “Fantastic Beasts,” which crossed the $500 million mark globally this weekend with $385 million coming from overseas. The studio should also top the Chinese charts next week with the release of “Aquaman,” which is hitting the Middle Kingdom two weeks before its arrival in the U.S.