‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Has Affluent Fans Opening Their Wallets
Last month, a group of Silicon Valley venture capital and tech minds gathered for an exclusive dinner at Chef Chu’s, an old-school Chinese restaurant in Los Altos, California.
Tucking into Peking duck and Dungeness crab in kung pao sauce, the diners, most of them Asian-American and some fierce competitors with one another, set about to tackle a common goal.
“The question to all of them was, ‘How can this be successful, sustainably?'” said Bing Chen, an entrepreneur who organized the event.
They were not discussing a startup, a scholarship program or a political campaign. The task at hand was to take one of the summer’s most anticipated new movies, “Crazy Rich Asians,” and turn it into a bona fide cultural phenomenon.
From that meeting a social media hashtag campaign called #GoldOpen was born in anticipation of the movie’s opening nationwide on Wednesday. But that would not be enough — a number of those at the dinner, after all, were rich Asians themselves.
So from New York City to Los Angeles, Houston to Honolulu, these industry leaders and others have spent many thousands of dollars renting out dozens of theaters for special screenings of the movie before and during its opening week. The campaign aims to fuel widespread interest in a film that could blaze a pathway for greater Asian-American representation in Hollywood, which organizers as well as the film’s creators and stars say is long overdue.
“High tides raise all boats, so we wanted to see if we could be that high tide,” said Andrew Chau, a co-founder of Boba Guys, a bubble tea chain. He chipped in for screenings in San Francisco and in Texas.
The backers have been spending $1,600 to $5,100 per screening, depending on the size of the theater, its location and whether the film is shown during prime time. Those tickets have then been distributed free to Asian-American youth and community groups, friends and the occasional VIP.
“When’s the last time you’ve seen so many Asians in a theater?” said Tim Lim, a 33-year-old political consultant, after a screening in Washington on Monday. His friend helped pay for the screening, and Lim vowed to see the movie on his own at least three more times.
“I want this to make as much money as possible,” he said. “I’m going to watch the IMAX, 3D, $25 version to get the cost up.”