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In my eyes, CRAZY RICH ASIANS was such an awesome film and was momentous for me personally as a Western born and raised Asian, as it was for many others. But when I heard that the film was going to open in China, I didn’t have a good feeling about how it would perform there. But before I get to my opinions as to why the film performed so terrible in China, here are some of the stats of its performance. 

The film opened in China on November 30 and according to Variety:

Afternoon admissions Friday had ranked the romantic comedy in fourth place.

But when the opening weekend started it was apparent that there was little to no interest from Chinese audiences. There were concerns that the film will not even bring in US$1 million for the opening, but from the Friday – Sunday opening it bought in just over 1 million USD ( US $1.18 million), which is around 6 million Yuan. The film opened at the same time domestic produced film “A COOL FISH” and Marvel’s “VENOM” did really well, so there was stiff competition there. 

So why did CRAZY RICH ASIANS perform poorly in China, well here is my take of it:

* The story line is nothing new in China or in Asia for that matter. The core of the film is middle class/poor girl, gets into a relationship with a rich and handsome son of a business empire with a mother (matriarch) who only wants what she thinks is best for her son, keep up appearances and comes across as “evil” to the middle class/poor girl the son loves and wants to be with. If you have watched Korean, Chinese and Japanese dramas as well as Bollywood films, this story line is pretty much the basis for most of the dramas/films for over a decade. 

* The hype of CRAZY RICH ASIANS was pretty much over once it opened in China, and I think that time delay of the opening has caused the excitement and the hype over the film to dissipate by the time it was approved to open in China;

* Over the past decade or 2, the Chinese film and TV industry has grown to enormity. Many well known actors from Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan go for roles in Chinese films and TV shows. Film and show production budgets are huge there and the audience distribution is also huge, and again it is not easy to compete with China made films which have been promoted on Chinese media as “big” and “epic” films;

* A film with characters of Chinese background speaking English, is not something which will appeal to Chinese audiences who have expectations that anyone who looks like them should be able to speak Mandarin. This is probably more of a cultural expectation due to the differences of the perceptions between the different diasporas. Whether we like this fact or not, we must accept this as one of the reasons;

* The idea of “extremely rich Asians” is not a new concept in China, with many rich Chinese who live this life in China and abroad;

* The plight of Western born and raised Asians is an ignorance in China. For me, CRAZY RICH ASIANS was an important and momentous film, but to the Chinese and to many Asians in Asia, this is a non issue. They have no interest in identity politics and there is no awareness of white supremacy/privilege/whitewashing there. 

* There is also this idea in China and in Asia that any Hollywood film will only have credibility there if it has white leads, characters, actors in it. If not, it has no credibility. This again goes back to the draconian perceptions of race and the lack of understanding about identity politics in China and in Asia more broadly. The Han in China, are the majority, so they have the equivalent in China of white privilege, hence, the lack of understanding and interest in this idea. 

All in all, I think it is still awesome that CRAZY RICH ASIANS made it in China and has thrown its name in the hat. As Variety reports, it is the precursor to the sequel “China Rich Girlfriend” which is set to be filmed in Shanghai… so let’s see how all this pans out. 

To read the original article, please click on: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Flops at the Chinese Box Office

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