Crazy Rich Asians Disappoints at Chinese Box Office
Crazy Rich Asians opened in China this weekend to underwhelming results. The film made less than $1.2 million, according to industry tracker Ent Group.
It opened on 5,000 screens, but ended the weekend in eighth place. When the film made $410,000 on Friday, exhibitors were quick to react, and the number of screenings per day went from 32,000 on Friday to 18,700 on Saturday. Meanwhile, last week’s top film, A Cool Fish, maintained its position to bring in $24.2 million in its third weekend of release. Sony’s Venom, which has been out for 24 days in China, earned an additional $12.3 million.
The poor performance of Crazy Rich Asians could be related to criticisms of the film. Chinese moviegoers have called it a “banana”, which is a term used to describe “Westernized people of Asian descent, because a banana is yellow on the outside and white on the inside.”
“It’s a banana version of Cinderella,” wrote Zhuge Ruojian, a user on film review site Douban. “There are lots of jokes typical of blockbusters. But it isn’t really Asian but pandering to the European and American audience.”
Another reason for the film’s disappointing opening in China could be attributed to its failure to connect with a Chinese audience.
“The story is set in Singapore. It features a lot of Chinese traditional customs and songs, [but] it doesn’t really touch upon the core of Chinese culture. In short, it’s a Hollywood commercial production depicting the lives of billionaires,” said user Ying Zi Leng Feng on Douban.
Analysts closely observed the release, wondering for months how the film would do at the Chinese box office. Some advised caution, because while this American film was applauded for its all-Asian cast, nearly all Chinese films already have this quality.
Also, since the film was released in the US in August, many moviegoers in mainland China have already pirated the film online or seen it abroad.
In the US, Crazy Rich Asians was number one for four consecutive weekends. It has made a total of $237 million worldwide on a production budget of $30 million.
That said, the producers were not relying on the film being a success in China to break even, but the market was still important to them because they plan to shoot some of the sequel in Shanghai, possibly as a co-production.