The martial arts superhero film starring the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Asian-American main character, along with a predominantly East Asian cast, has been compared to “Black Panther” in terms of its potential cultural significance.
Supporters of the film, directed by Asian-American filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton, have launched several GoFundMe campaigns so that hundreds of children and their parents can see the film for free this week.
The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment and Gold House, a nonprofit that consults Hollywood studios on behalf of Asian Americans in entertainment, on Monday hosted its second “Gold Open” screening of “Shang- Chi “in New York after holding a premiere at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles two weeks ago.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest movie franchise on the planet right now, according to Gold House President Bing Chen, who said there was a lot at stake this weekend for members of the AAPI community who wish to see more Hollywood Movies and TV Shows featuring Asian Americans.
“If we can show that we can actually run our own opening weekend through the world’s largest film franchise, it will open up more opportunities in other big franchises, as well as independent films, for that to happen. AAPIs lead, ”Chen said. CNN Business last week. “We are two-thirds of the world and there are still people who don’t believe that we can open movies… One movie doesn’t change the world forever, but it starts to fuel it.”
Asian representation in Hollywood films
“Shang-Chi” is the latest in a series of films starring Asian main characters to capture the nation’s attention at a time when anti-Asian hate crimes were rampant. “Minari,” a film centered on a Korean-American family moving to Arkansas in search of their own vision of the American Dream, was nominated for Best Picture at the last Academy Awards.
This honor came a year after the South Korean film “Parasite” won the first Oscar award.
In March, Disney released its animated epic “Raya and the Last Dragon” on Disney +, about seven months after giving platform subscribers premium access to see the live version of “Mulan.”
The importance of AAPI portrayal is something Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu, who plays the titular hero in “Shang-Chi,” has been vocal about since he was cast for the role in 2019.
“When ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ came out three years ago, we celebrated it as the first studio film with a predominantly Asian cast in almost 25 years,” Liu told Variety earlier this month. this. “I’m looking forward to the moment when we don’t celebrate the firsts anymore. We celebrate the seconds, the third, the fourth and the fifth. So I’m going to take this moment for what it is. It’s absolutely that defining moment. … But I hope there will be many more like this afterwards. “
What makes ‘Shang-Chi’ special
Martial arts magic has been criticized as a stereotypical Hollywood trope of the Asian experience. But Ron Han, editor and chief of POC Culture.com, a website that celebrates diversity in pop culture, says that “Shang-Chi” is something that most martial films don’t have.
Han launched his own GoFundMe campaign earlier this month so that Asian kids at his local Boys and Girls Club in San Gabriel Valley, Calif., Can see the film. He points out that America’s biggest martial arts stars of the past four decades – icons such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa – are from East Asia. He said Asian Americans were actually much less represented in Hollywood action movies than most people realize.
“This film is very decidedly an Asian-American film and our community has been largely ignored because of the amalgamation with [East] Asia, ”Han told CNN Business.
Disney has taken fan heat on Twitter in recent weeks for deciding not to do a simultaneous theatrical and streaming release for “Shang-Chi” like the studio did for “Black Widow” in early July. Disney CEO Bob Chapek told analysts the film will have a 45-day cinema window after its release on Friday and will then be available on Disney +. Some have criticized the move for potentially forcing audiences to venture into theaters while the Covid-19 Delta variant is on the rise in parts of the country.
But getting Americans out of their homes during a resurgent pandemic to see a comic book hero many have never heard of could be Disney and Marvel’s toughest challenge, according to ComScore senior media analyst. Paul Dergarabedian, who says both the studio and advocates for more Asian representation in Hollywood have an interest in Shang-Chi’s box office success.
“If you have a movie that bombs and tries to make a difference, it won’t make the difference that you want it to make,” Dergarabedian told CNN Business last week.
Dergarabedian and Jeff Bock, senior media analyst for Exhibitor Relations, an entertainment industry research and data company, said a total of $ 50-60 million at the U.S. box office for the weekend opening was a solid benchmark against which to assess Shang-Chi’s success. “Black Widow” set the bar earlier this year, making over $ 80 million in its first weekend in US theaters, but that was before the Delta variant hit its current crisis levels. .
“A start of over $ 60 million would be a good start for Marvel’s new superhero,” Bock said.