'Crazy Rich Asians': 5 things to know about the new film

The romantic comedy hits theaters today.

August 15, 2018, 4:18 AM

Odds are, you've probably heard or seen something about the film "Crazy Rich Asians" which hits theaters today.

Still, maybe you're wondering what the movie is about and why it's getting so much buzz.

"Good Morning America" has put together a cheat sheet to give you all the information you need before you buy your ticket.

1. The movie has historic and cultural significance: "Crazy Rich Asians" stars Constance Wu as Rachel Chu, a New Yorker who travels to Singapore with her boyfriend, Nick Young, played by Henry Golding, only to discover that his family is one of the wealthiest in Asia. Directed by Jon M. Chu, this is the first movie in 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast. Awkwafina, who plays Rachel's best friend in the movie, told "Good Morning America" that for some audience members, seeing themselves represented on the big screen is an overwhelming experience.

“I see Asian Americans, they leave these screenings and they’re in tears. I had a conversation with one and she said, ‘I don’t know why I just needed to cry,’" she said. "It was a joy she couldn’t put her finger on and it was the feeling of representation.”

Perhaps it's because seeing Asian characters on the big screen is pretty rare. According to a recent study from the University of Southern California Annenberg, there has been little change in the number of diverse portrayals in popular movies over the past decade. Nearly 71 percent of popular films feature white characters, whereas fewer than 30 percent of feature characters were black, Hispanic, Asian or "other."

2. Henry Golding is making his acting debut in the movie: Constance Wu has a lengthy resume including a major role on the ABC series "Fresh Off the Boat," but her co-star, Henry Golding, is a Hollywood newbie. In an interview with Glamour magazine, the actor explained that his background is in broadcast television -- he worked as a travel host for BBC, Discovery and National Geographic -- and he owes his newfound acting career to an accountant who worked on "Crazy Rich Asians."

"The filmmakers were literally at the eleventh hour trying to find an appropriate Nick Young, and the accounting lady said, 'I met this guy Henry Golding at an event about five years ago, and I thought he was the epitome of this character,'" he said. "[Director] Jon [M. Chu] fell down the Instagram hole and was like, 'I’ve got to get a hold of this dude.' We met on Skype, I sent some tapes, and they flew me to L.A. for a chemistry read. I was offered the role two and a half weeks later, which was life-changing."

3. Critics really like it: On the criticism aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, "Crazy Rich Asians" has a 97 percent rating, based on 60 reviews. Just two were negative.

"[It's] a frothy fairy tale, trivial and weighty at once, that simultaneously uses tried-and-true romantic comedy convention while riotously bursting free of movie-business formula," wrote Jake Coyle of the Associated Press.

Added A.O. Scott of The New York Times: "Mostly, the movie is committed to the value of a good time."

However, Alana Mohamed of the Village Voice didn't agree.

"For all its carnival-like antics, 'Crazy Rich Asians' is all too aware of its own spectacle," she wrote.

4. It's expected to be relatively lucrative, too: The movie, which is based on author Kevin Kwan's bestseller, is projected to have a $26 million-plus five day opening, Variety reported Monday. The publication noted that that number would be a great one for the movie to hit, as it cost $30 million to make, and recently, romantic comedies, including "I Feel Pretty" and "Overboard," have struggled at the box office.

5. It almost went straight to Netflix: The fact that "Crazy Rich Asians" is coming to theaters is somewhat a miracle in and of itself. Jon M. Chu told The Hollywood Reporter that although Warner Bros., the production company behind the film, outbid other traditional studios, Netflix also made an offer, complete with artistic freedom, a greenlighted trilogy and seven-figure minimum paychecks for each stakeholder. Although Chu and author Kevin Kwan considered going with the streaming service, ultimately they decided they wanted the project shown on the big screen.

"I could sense every lawyer on the call shaking their heads: 'Ugh, these stupid idealists.' Here, we have a chance for this gigantic payday instantaneously," Kwan told the publication. "But Jon and I both felt this sense of purpose. We needed this to be an old-fashioned cinematic experience, not for fans to sit in front of a TV and just press a button."

"We were gifted this position to make a decision no one else can make, which is turning down the big payday for rolling the dice [on the box office] -- but being invited to the big party, which is people paying money to go see us," Chu added.

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