2018 was the ultimate proof that diversity in movies isn’t just good for society but it is actually profitable, too.
Not only did Black Panther become a culture phenomenon, but Crazy Rich Asians basically rejuvenated the romantic comedy genre all on its own.
While its haul of $174.5 million was only the 17th highest grossing movie of the year domestically, it was also the most successful rom-com of the last 10 years and the first film with a predominantly Asian-American cast in 25 years.
Its opening weekend haul of $35 million was $15 million more than even the loftiest of projections. But, in terms of box office, the most startling statistics came after this period, as its gross dropped just 6% in its second week, and then 10% in its third week. These were unprecedented numbers, and immediately made other Hollywood producers stand up and notice.
Why was Crazy Rich Asians so successful?
“I hadn’t seen a movie do that in a long time,” explains producer James Lopez, who didn’t work on Crazy Rich Asians, but did produce 2016’s Girls Trip, which followed a very similar path to box office glory.
Lopez believes that the success of Crazy Rich Asians will finally make Hollywood recognize the power of diverse casts.
“It’s funny we were involved with a movie called Think Like A Man, and the town was surprised with that. Then the success of Girls Trip, the town was surprised with that. Why do people keep getting surprised? People want to see themselves in a good film. It shouldn’t be a surprise that when you have the combination of a good film with a diverse cast that not only do people from that community support it, but the general market supports it, too.”
“Because at the end of the day, a good movie is a good movie. No matter who is in it. Obviously you have to account for star power when it comes to box office success. But you’re able to create a cultural movement when you cast a film a certain way. And that is what Crazy Rich Asians was. It was a movement.”
Lopez believes that more projects in the same vein of Crazy Rich Asians and Girls Trip will follow, especially because he is currently on the hunt for one.
“I was invited to a friends house the weekend prior to the opening of Crazy Rich Asians. It was a gathering of a lot of people from the Latino community. Actors, directors, writers, producers. I made a comment about how Crazy Rich Asians was going to be a moment not only for Asian Americans and Asians around the world, but also it could be a great leap for a project that will eventually be cast predominantly with Latinos in it.”
“Obviously, we’ve seen that before. But I think the town is now really paying attention to that. And I’m a huge advocate for for such a project and I’m desperately trying to find one. But I think it just bodes well for the business when you see a project like that come along. We experienced that with Girls Trip. Where we saw four African American women in a hard R-rated comedy. That had never been done before. And it struck a chord with women of all hues. I just love it when movies come along and buck the trend.”