‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Will Finally Debut in China Even Though Chinese State Media Criticized It for Exalting Wealth

October 16, 2018, 10:16 AM UTC

The Warner Bros. surprise hit Crazy Rich Asians will debut in China next month, ending speculation that the country’s film regulators may block the hit romantic comedy after the country’s official media criticized its portrayal of wealth.

The movie will debut in China Nov. 30, Warner Bros. said by email late Monday. The first major Hollywood film with a predominantly Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club in 1993, Crazy Rich Asians has collected about $230 million worldwide, according to movie data website Box Office Mojo.

Based on a best-selling novel about Singapore’s wealthy elite, the film topped the North American box-office for weeks over the summer and has been celebrated for opening the door to more diverse casting in Hollywood. While applauding its promotion of Asian ethnicity and culture, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said the film’s characters presented a new stereotype and “overlooked the survival pressure facing Asian Americans.”

The Crazy Rich Asians release window also comes after the China’s tax authorities announced almost $130 million in tax penalties and arrears for Fan Bangbing, one of the country’s biggest film and TV stars, and affiliated companies. The penalties were part of a crackdown on celebrity tax evasion and came along with new rules limiting pay for stars — reminders that the Communist Party hasn’t loosened its grip on the booming film and television industry.

China Daily, the state-run English-language newspaper, compared Crazy Rich Asians with Hello, Mr. Billionaire, a domestic satire that became a summer hit. While the latter is “edgier, more incisive,” the Warner Bros. film “makes the mistake of being too gob-smacked by luxury and too reverential to the super-rich for too much of the film’s duration.”

It’s not uncommon for foreign films to to debut in China months after their initial releases. The government applies an informal ban on imported titles in periods such as the summer peak season and most public holidays. The date for Crazy Rich Asians was approved among a batch of other Hollywood films that secured release windows, including Walt Disney Co.’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, according to Chinese movie news site Mtime and The Hollywood Reporter.