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‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Is the Top Movie for a Third Week, But What Does That Success Say?

Crazy Rich Asians has done insanely well at the box office, hitting number one for three weeks in a row. It’s brought in another $22 million this weekend, bringing its total to $110.9 million. If it picks up another $8 million today, it could blow past Halloween‘s opening weekend total of $30.6 million in 2007.

There has been a lot of of ink spilled about the success of a film with an entirely Asian cast, but what I want to talk about is how this differs from movies like Ghostbusters and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which have also had much ink spilled about their diverse casts. Although an all-Asian cast isn’t exactly diverse, it’s kind of the opposite of being diverse. I mean, it’s good because Asians are pretty under-represented in American cinema, but diverse isn’t the right word for it.

But I’ve been told that the problem that basically anyone who didn’t like Ghostbusters (the new one, not the good one) or The Last Jedi didn’t like it was because it wasn’t all white dudes. So it strikes me as funny because, if that was true, wouldn’t those same people be giving the Crazy Rich Asians trailer thumbs down and trolling the stars on social media?

I mean, I’m sure there are some people doing that, but it’s not any sort of phenomenon. There’s no large contigent that people making noise about it’s proof “the SJWs” are ruining movies and no one is writing think pieces for blogs with names that are ironically reclaiming incredibly mildly insulting terms for certain types of women about how everyone who doesn’t like it probably drowns kittens and masturbates to pictures of Hitler laying under a glass coffee table.

I have a theory about this, and it’s a little crazy, so bear with me here; I think the difference is that Crazy Rich Asians is actually a good movie. I think that the negative opinions of films like Ghostbusters starts organically (Richard Roeper, one of the most respected film critics around, absolutely panned it) and then some dipshits who just finished watching Jordan Peterson tell them to clean their room while dealing with Gonzo’s latest stunt going wrong get on Twitter and say “See, it’s terrible because of women whom I hate because they won’t touch my special place.” That’s like one percent of people involved and everyone else thinks those guys suck, too, but now it’s a culture war issue and before you know it, the BBC World Service is inviting some adjunct professor of women’s studies from Valerie Solanas University to explain why everyone who doesn’t want to watch the latest big-budget Hollywood popcorn film is supporting genocide.

Crazy Rich Asians was also produced outside the normal Hollywood system, as well. It’s main backer was Ivanhoe Pictures, an Asian film investment group that was looking to make films with Asian casts. Hollywood production companies had generally not wanted to make a movie with an Asian cast. Once the film was done, however, studios were falling all over each other to distribute the film because, once again, it’s a good movie, and quality movies do still make money. I do think this is part of the reason why there’s no big “anyone who doesn’t see this movie is racist” marketing push for the film the way there was for, say, Black Panther. If you don’t think Disney and other big studios pay people to astroturf shit like that, you’re dreaming.

The important takeaway here is that movies don’t need to be full of white people to succeed at the domestic box office, they just need to be good. Or, failing that, they need to have Disney’s marketing department behind them telling you to just ignore the fact that it falls apart in the third act like Black Panther did. But I think making a good film will probably work out better in the long run. No one is going to be talking about the Marvel movies in 20 years, we’ll have moved on to a new kind of genre film. Crazy Rich Asians is a film that people will still be watching and talking about long into the future, though.

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