OPINION: Crazy Rich Asians Breathes Life Into The Seemingly Dead Rom-Com Genre
Romantic comedies, otherwise known as "rom-coms", have had a rough patch these last few years. Flashback to the early 2000s and late 90s where dozens of rom-coms came out every year made by the top movie studios. After awhile, the genre became oversaturated with similar stories of the muscular white dude falling in love with the quirky white chick that get married at the end. Barely any diversity was shown for characters or story. Genres need to innovate to stay alive and the people behind 90s/early-00s rom-coms learned this the hard way. Now barely any rom-coms are releasing in theaters and Netflix has become pretty much the sole producer of the genre. It's a grim time for lovers of the genre, but once in a while the future looks bright.
Last year's The Big Sick gave rom-com fans something something to love with its different story that explored biracial relationships and hospitalization. After that, it seemed that we'd finally start getting more different and worthy romantic comedies, but yet again there was a period of nothingness. That is until this past weekend when Crazy Rich Asians took critics and movie-goers by storm.
The film over-performed grossing $34 million on its five day opening weekend that was tracking for a significantly less $25-26 million. This marks the best opening for a rom-com in three years and the best opening for a comedy all year. Boasting a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and earning number one at the weekend box office has cemented Crazy Rich Asians as a critical and financial hit. It seems that the film is only going up with good word of mouth and future release in foreign markets.
Like its successful rom-com brother The Big Sick, both films told love stories from a cinematically ignored point-of-view. There hasn't been an all-Asian cast in a movie for 25 years (1993's The Joy Luck Club). Crazy Rich Asians marks a milestone for Asian representation in film and thus has brought in increased amounts of Asian audiences with Asian-Americans making up 38% of the opening weekend audience.
Crazy Rich Asians brought something fresh to romantic comedies with the fight for romance over socioeconomic differences and the breaking Asian stereotypes in film. Rom-coms need to have different themes and perspectives to stay interesting. There is nothing more universal than love, but when different groups don't see themselves represented in media, it doesn't feel so universal. The Big Sick, Black Panther, and Crazy Rich Asians all show that groups want to see themselves reflected on the big screen. Crazy Rich Asians is a major step for Asian diversity in film and a great example for the new age of romantic comedies.