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Exclusive: Hollywood Bucks Trend, Actually Hires an Asian to Direct a Movie Set in Asia

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | October 17, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | October 17, 2016 |

Earlier today, Deadline announced that Sony had tapped Alex Graves (Game of Thrones) to direct its live-action version of Mulan to the disappointment of some who were hoping the studio would hire an Asian director (this comes a week after Disney generated some controversy when the original script for their live-action version of Mulan featured a white savior):

Nina Jacobson’s Color Force is not making the same mistake with their adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians. We can report that John Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Now You See Me 2) has officially been set to direct the film, based on the popular 2013 novel about a group of wealthy Asian families (THR reported in May that he was in talks). The movie will follow the heir apparent of a massively wealthy Asian family, Nick Young, who brings his American-born Chinese girlfriend to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. The Times described the book — loosely inspired by Kwan’s childhood in Singapore — as a “a dizzily shopaholic comedy of crass manners.”

We are also told that it will be an all-Asian cast, so white-washing fears can be put to rest. (We also have a number of Asian actors from which casting directors should choose their Nick Young.)

The book’s author, Kevin Kwan — who is also executive producing — chose Pete Chiarelli (The Proposal) to pen the screenplay, re-teaming the scribe with the director of the worldwide box-office hit, Now You See Me 2, which — ironically — may lead to a spin-off sequel with an all Asian cast based on the film’s popularity in China.

Should Crazy Rich Asians succeed at the box-office, it could also go a long way toward illustrating that Matt Damon is not necessary to sell an Asian film to American audiences. It could also launch a franchise. Kwan published the second novel in a planned trilogy, Rich People Problems, last year, and he is expected to produce the follow-up next summer.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.