'Crazy Rich Asians' Sequel Moves Forward With Director Jon M. Chu (Exclusive)
The creative team behind Warner Bros.' breakout romantic comedy is planning to reunite for the sequel, based on Kevin Kwan's second book, 'China Rich Girlfriend.'
[This post contains spoilers for Warner Bros.’ Crazy Rich Asians.]
The Crazy Rich Asians gang is getting back together. Jon M. Chu, who helmed the groundbreaking film that ruled the box office with a $35.3 million five-day opening, is planning to return for the sequel. Warner Bros.' is moving forward with development on the follow-up, with plans to reunite the first movie's original team, including producers Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson of Color Force and John Penotti of Ivanhoe.
Chu, whose past credits include 2016's Now You See Me 2 and 2013's G.I. Joe: Retaliation, does have a packed schedule, but sources say he'd likely helm the follow-up to Crazy Rich Asians after shooting the long-awaited adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first musical, In the Heights, which Warners has scheduled for a June 26, 2020, release.
The plan is to also bring back screenwriters Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim (who penned Crazy Rich Asians), although the deals have not yet been set.
Warner Bros. has not yet officially greenlighted the sequel (it's standard practice for a studio to take a wait-and-see approach with a new potential franchise) but is moving forward on development. The studio and its CEO and chairman Kevin Tsujihara took a risk by greenlighting a comp-less film starring an all-Asian cast and a very specific story set in Singapore, but with the massive opening weekend results, a strong performance in weeks to come will all but guarantee the sequel is a go. The $30 million production, the first Hollywood studio movie since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club to feature an all-Westernized Asian ensemble, has opened better than any other comedy this year and any rom-com since 2015’s Trainwreck.
Warner Bros. has the option for Kevin Kwan’s entire trilogy, which includes 2015’s China Rich Girlfriend and 2017’s Rich People Problems. “We have a plan with Kevin for the next two films,” says producer Simpson.
Chu smartly teased the possible sequel in the final moments of the first film. Like any classic romantic comedy, Crazy Rich Asians wraps up happily ever after, with the entire ensemble gathered on the rooftop of Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Sands resort to celebrate the engagement of Nick (Henry Golding) and Rachel (Constance Wu). But unlike most romantic comedies, the Warner Bros. hit actually ends with a mid-credits scene more commonly seen nowadays in Marvel movies, teasing the subject of the next installment.
The stinger features Nick’s newly single cousin Astrid (Gemma Chan) exchanging meaningful glances at the party with a handsome man (Glee alum Harry Shum Jr.), Charlie Wu, whom fans of Kwan’s novels recognize as Astrid’s first love.
Eagle-eyed viewers spotted Charlie dancing with Astrid in the trailer (a few tantalizing seconds that were instantly immortalized in GIFs), but the moment — which took place earlier in the film, at Colin (Chris Pang) and Araminta's (Sonoya Mizuno) wedding reception — was excised from the film’s final cut, in part to avoid giving the impression that Astrid was leaving her husband, Michael (Pierre Png), for another man.
Instead, Charlie and Astrid’s second chance at romance would take place during a second film, Chu tells THR. “The idea is to tell the story in the next movie,” he says, adding that Shum’s appearance in Crazy Rich Asians was always intended to be a cameo. “I made a promise to Harry, so I’m going to do it.”
In addition to developing Charlie and Astrid’s relationship, China Rich Girlfriend also follows Nick and Rachel to China on her search for her father. But China’s cooperation with such a sequel remains in question, as its government has in recent years strenuously tried to downplay the country’s uber-wealthy class. Crazy Rich Asians has yet to obtain a China release, and a Chinese translation of the 2013 novel was only made available in the country this year.
The other Crazy Rich Asians character with a major plotline in the second book is, surprisingly, Kitty Pong (Fiona Xie), the shameless gold-digging actress who dumps Alistair (Remy Hii) for Bernard Tai (Jimmy O. Yang). As with other actors like Shum, Chu cast the Singaporean star with an eye toward her expanded part in the sequel. “We needed to hire somebody who can really act, because in time she becomes much more significant,” he says. “I think she’s scared that we’re never going to make that one, but we are. I’ll make it happen.”
The main cast, including Golding, Wu and Yeoh, have options in place for the sequels, and, after likely negotiating bigger deals in light of the film's success, would return. The self-described “family” of Crazy Rich Asians has unanimously expressed eagerness to reunite. “I hope there’s something in the future,” leading man Golding, who has Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor and indie Monsoon coming out soon, tells THR. “It would be so much fun to get everybody back together, back to sweaty old Singapore.”