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Media & Entertainment

'Crazy Rich Asians' fans have to wait a few years for sequel

Scheduling increasingly difficult as Hollywood flings open doors to Asian stars

"Crazy Rich Asians" cast members Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and Gemma Chan arrive at the 25th Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles in January.   © Reuters

LOS ANGELES -- A sequel to last year's box-office smash "Crazy Rich Asians" looks likely to not hit theaters until possibly 2021.

Warner Bros. has confirmed that screenwriter Peter Chiarelli and director Jon Chu recently submitted revisions to a 10-page synopsis originally submitted in July for the provisionally titled "Crazy Rich Asians 2."

The franchise adapts entries in Singaporean author Kevin Kwan's novels "Crazy Rich Asians," "China Rich Girlfriend" and "Rich People Problems." Buzz is afoot of the second and third movies shooting back to back.

Constance Wu, Gemma Chan, Henry Golding and Awkwafina's characters are all set to return for the sequel. But shooting will most likely not begin until 2020, owing to scheduling conflicts for actors as well as with Chu's adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical "In the Heights."

The $30 million-budget "Crazy Rich Asians" made waves with Hollywood's first such Asian cast since 1993's "The Joy Luck Club." It grossed $238.5 million worldwide in Box Office Mojo data, becoming the sixth-highest-grossing romantic comedy on record in the U.S.-Canada domestic market.

In a somewhat stagnant Hollywood where remakes have become par for the course, only time will tell whether such new stories can also garner box-office glory.

The film did not do so well internationally, where it earned $64 million -- just 26.8% of its total gross. Its highest foreign box-office numbers came out of Australia, the U.K. and Indonesia. China brought in only $1.65 million.

The actors' salaries have not been disclosed. But "Crazy Rich Asians" co-screenwriter Adele Lim, the film's only screenwriter of Asian descent, recently quit the franchise over a pay disparity. Veteran co-screenwriter Chiarelli was initially offered $800,000 to $1 million, against more than $110,000 for Lim, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The novel "China Rich Girlfriend" takes place largely in China. Producer and SK Global Entertainment Co-CEO John Penotti said at the Chinese American Film Festival last year that shooting in Shanghai would be targeted, according to Variety. He said it was currently unclear whether the producers would attempt an official China-U.S. co-production.

"We certainly tried to make the [first] film as a China-U.S. co-production," Penotti said. "But [as a company, we] haven't been very good at doing co-productions."

"Crazy Rich Asians" was followed by such other Asian American-led titles as "Searching," "To All the Boys I've Loved Before," "Stuber," "Always Be My Maybe" and the Awkwafina-led "The Farewell."

Gold House, a U.S.-based nonprofit "of pioneering Asian founders, creative voices, and leaders," is behind the #GoldOpen movement that aims to buy out theaters for selected movies to ensure their opening-weekend success.

The latest beneficiary is the fantasy adventure "Abominable," praised by Gold House for showing the first modern-day Chinese family in an animated global film and for being one of the rare movies with a female Asian lead. The group targeted theaters in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Co-produced by Shanghai-headquartered Pearl Studio and California-based DreamWorks Animation, the $75 million-budget title opened in the U.S. on Friday and in China on Tuesday.

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