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A theatrical release (rather than a streaming release), was so important to director Jon Chu and the trilogy’s author, Kevin Kwan, that the duo turned down a lucrative Netflix deal to ensure that the film got the theatrical opening so many had longed to see.
“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 told The Hollywood Reporter.
It goes without saying, Asian representation in Hollywood is limited. A recent study from USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that of 2017’s top films, only 4.8% featured Asian characters (emphasis on “characters,” as they are not necessarily played by Asian actors) —37 of the year’s top 100 films featured no Asian characters with speaking parts. Of the same 100 films, 65 featured no Asian or Asian American females.
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CRA will certainly help balance the scales in Hollywood, but as noted by Wu, there’s still a long way to go. “I hope Asian American kids watch CRA and realize that they can be the heroes of their own stories. I know CRA won’t represent every Asian American. So for those who don’t feel seen, I hope there is a story you find soon that does represent you. I am rooting for you. We’re not all the same, but we all have a story.”