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Chasing a 'gold open,' 'Crazy Rich Asians' supporters buy tickets for strangers

More than apparently 200 individuals and organizations have organized group screenings or bought tickets for others to see “Crazy Rich Asians.”
Image: Warner Bros. The Big Picture 2018 at Cinemacon 2018, Las Vegas, NV, USA - 24 April 2018
From left, Awkwafina, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Constance Wu, Sonoya Mizuno and director Jon M. Chu at Warner Bros. Pictures "The Big Picture at CINEMACON 2018," in Las Vegas, NV, on behalf of "Crazy Rich Asians."Stewart Cooke

Teresa Hsiao won’t be making it to a “Crazy Rich Asians” screening until Saturday, but dozens of people will be able to see the film on Wednesday, its opening day, thanks to help from her and two of her friends.

On Aug. 11, Hsiao wrote on Twitter that she would buy tickets to the film — based on the 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan — for those who couldn’t afford it with help from TV producer Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and screenwriter Adele Lim (who wrote the screenplay for “Crazy Rich Asians”). Requests began coming in from across the U.S., including places like Tennessee and Michigan, Hsiao recalled, and soon she was spending her Saturday connecting with strangers, listening to their stories, and booking tickets.

In all, the trio paid for approximately 80 people, Hsiao said, and, at one point, her card was flagged for fraud.

“It was just kind of on a whim — I’m going to see if this works and all of a sudden it kind of took off,” Hsiao, a TV writer based in Los Angeles, said. “It felt amazing.”

Hsiao and her friends are three of more than apparently 200 individuals and organizations who have bought out theaters, organized group screenings, or bought tickets for others to see “Crazy Rich Asians,” the first major Hollywood film in a quarter century to feature an Asian-American cast.

Many of those who have offered tickets have written about their desire to see the film have a “gold open,” including Olympic medalists Alex and Maia Shibutani and musician Kina Grannis. The film is forecast for a $26 million five-day debut, according to Variety, up from a $20 million forecast a few weeks ago.

In follow-up tweets published Monday, Hsiao, who has seen the film in previews, detailed why its success was important to her and her friends, noting that she had grown up “watching people who looked different from me” and believes that “when you grow up like this, people who look different from you no longer seem as scary or foreign.”

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Many of those who had reached out to her for tickets weren’t Asian American, Hsiao noted, and she felt that people of color in general were excited and understood the importance of the success of films like “Crazy Rich Asians.”

“It does feel weird that I’m so excited about this movie that I have nothing to do with,” Hsiao said, noting that while there was a lot of pressure on the film, she doesn’t see it as the “last movie” for Asian Americans, but as something that could make space for more films and projects as well as for those in civic life and business.

“I think there have been very few moments in the past for the Asian-American community to rally around something collectively,” Hsiao said. “Our community is so diverse, with so many different cultures and languages within it. But it feels like CRA is one of those moments. And to see so many people rise up and come together for this has been really moving. Hopefully it speaks to a stronger Asian-American community moving forward that can push for representation not only in entertainment but also the leadership of this country.”

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