Hollywood is Scrambling For Asian Stories After ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Makes $140 Million
With the box office success of Jon M. Chu’s “Crazy Rich Asians,” it appears the door for more Asian American representation in Hollywood is indeed finally opening up.
Effectively breaking the perception that Asians aren’t bankable enough to sell a movie or a TV series, the film has so far raked in almost $120 million in the United States, turning some producers into believers. Industry insiders say studios are now scrambling to find similar Asian-centric stories.
In an interview with NBC, Asian American creators revealed that the movie heralded not only Asian representation on screen, but off screen as well.
Japanese American writer and producer Lisa Takeuchi Cullen shared a recent conversation with a producer who pitched her a potential series after “Crazy Rich Asians” made its successful debut. The producer even insisted on casting an Asian American as the lead in a show.
“Usually after they explain the premise is when I jump in and say, ‘How would you feel if the leads were people of color?’” Cullen was quoted as saying. “This time, this producer said, ‘The only thing that’s non-negotiable is that the lead is Asian American.’”
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Cullen also sold a pilot pitch called “’Ohana” to ABC when “CRA” hit theaters. Based on the historical novel “Shark Dialogues” by author Kiana Davenport, the new show focuses on four hapa women who received a coveted property in Hawaii as an inheritance from their deceased grandmother.
In the last week, two network pilots were sold that feature all-Asian casts. I also know of three cable projects, all in active development, that mostly feature Asian and Asian-American characters. It’s going to happen, the momentum is there.
“Sleepy Hollow” showrunner Albert Kim shared a similar story about a successful TV show pitch he attributed to “CRA.”
“Even though I was developing this year’s pitch just before the movie had come out, awareness of the movie was really high because of all the marketing and because of all the press,” he noted. “So when I referenced ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ in my pitch, they all got it immediately.”
Meanwhile, former “Powerless” writer Lillian Yu shared that she was able to sell a spec script to Warner Bros.’ New Line Cinema days after “CRA’s” box office numbers made headlines.
“I think people were unsure before ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ came out whether this kind of movie could work, and everyone was really surprised that it did,” Yu told NBC. “It opened a lot of doors for a lot of people, including me.”
Yu’s project, titled “Singles Day,” is a romantic comedy set in China. She reportedly began working on the script in February after “Crazy Rich Asians” started making a buzz.