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The Asian American and black communities are coming together for the interracial YA romance The Sun Is Also a Star.
#GoldOpen, the movement to support Asian American films by buying out theaters opening weekend, is expanding to give a boost to MGM and Warner Bros.’ upcoming release, which stars Yara Shahidi and Riverdale‘s Charles Melton as a pair of high schoolers who fall in love over the course of a day. Dubbed #BlackAndGoldOpen, the initial round of buyers includes YouTube founder Steve Chen, fashion designer Prabal Gurung, Allure editor-in-chief Michelle Lee, Deutsche Bank managing director Yao King and EatNomz.com CEO Tony Wu, as well as the Blackhouse Foundation and the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment. In addition, Gold House — the collective of Asian American leaders and influencers that birthed #GoldOpen — is also buying out theaters, as are the black and Asian guilds of Twitch, which was co-founded by Gold House member Kevin Lin.
“#BlackAndGoldOpen is an important moment for the black and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities,” Blackhouse board chair Brickson Diamond said in a statement. “As we approach a state of majority representation in the United States alongside our Latinx brothers and sisters, uniting the stories of our communities is ever more essential. This film shares the complexities of youth, policy and love in a way that speaks to all of our identities. All of us are here for it!”
In the Ry Russo-Young-directed film, based on the best-selling novel by Nicola Yoon, Shahidi plays Natasha, a practical astronomy-loving girl whose family is being deported to Jamaica the next day, while Melton plays Daniel, a poet at heart being pushed by his Korean immigrant parents to pursue medicine at Dartmouth. The ethnic makeup of the pairing is directly inspired by Yoon’s own marriage and also is a pushback against the underrepresentation of black women and Asian as romantic leads, a scarcity that some have said contributes to their real-life, statistical outcomes in dating.
“The lack of visual representation makes it so challenging for people to not only accept but also embrace who they are,” said Gurung, who is partnering with Lee to host a screening for fashion industry insiders tonight. Added Lee, “#GoldOpen was a major movement for Asian Americans, but it’s important that we support representation on many levels — in Hollywood and beyond. A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Justin Chon’s 2017 Sundance and Indie Spirit-winning Gook was the first #GoldOpen film, and organized theater buyouts helped the tiny film earn the best per-theater average at the specialty box office in its first weekend and secure an expanded second weekend of release. A year later, the movement gained greater traction with the high-profile and historic release of Crazy Rich Asians, followed in quick succession by Searching (literally starring John Cho) and the critically acclaimed Steven Yeun-starrer Burning. #GoldOpen has expanded more since then, partnering with AMC Theatres to launch a dedicated ticketing portal on its website for convenience of orchestrating buyouts.
Said Wu, a #GoldOpen organizer from the beginning, “The movement continues through the passion, time and money of hundreds of volunteers who are now excited to support more underrepresented narratives.”
Editor’s note: Gold House is the publisher of the annual A100 list, of which this reporter is a 2019 honoree.
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