The blockbuster hit “Crazy Rich Asians” has raised unrealistic expectations for other Asian-led film projects, the actor Daniel Dae Kim said this week at a panel discussion at the Sundance Film Festival.
“One of the collateral damage effects of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ was that everyone wanted to do more Asian projects as long as they were just ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’” Kim said at the Variety-sponsored panel.
“If you had a project that spoke to something other than people being super rich and super wealthy and super happy, then they weren’t interested," he said. "Not only did we have difficulty trying to find other portrayals of Asian Americans, but it also had the additional burden of having to represent all Asians."
Inclusive storytelling shouldn't just be "a category or a checkbox and say, ‘We have our Asian project, we have our Black project, and so we’re good. We’re being diverse,’” Kim said.
The romantic comedy based on the bestselling novel by Kevin Kwan, followed Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend, Nick (Henry Golding), as they attended Nick’s best friend’s wedding in Singapore.
The 2018 film was a major success domestically and internationally, grossing almost $175 million in the U.S. and $64 million outside of the U.S. In 2022, it was announced that a sequel to “Crazy Rich Asians” was officially underway.
Many praised the film’s story upon its release for its fresh perspective, which was different from other Asian-led projects.
“Every ‘big’ Asian-American film has been an immigrant, first generation story,” sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen previously told NBC News. “We get annoyed with being conflated as being from Asia, but all the representation that’s been big still has the ‘Asian foreigner’ label. It’s a legitimate story, but there’s a glut of those.”
Neither director Jon M. Chu nor Warner Bros., which released the film, responded to requests for comment about Kim's remarks.
After the movie’s success, the idea that films centering on Asian Americans wouldn’t be profitable no longer applied. The film became a reference for writers to use during pitches in hopes their projects would be picked up by major production companies.
“For us, one hurdle — maybe even the tallest hurdle — is getting networks to believe that audiences will show up for these stories, and I think that’s where ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ has moved the bar,” producer Lisa Takeuchi Cullen previously said. “In Hollywood, numbers speak. And when a movie with all Asian leads brings up $35 million in the first week, executives sit up and take notice.”