Crazy Rich Asians: The drama doesn’t end there

Wah wah wah, the plot of the Crazy Rich Asians movie turns even more drama. Turns out that the writer of the book Kevin Kwan is a National Service (NS) defaulter, as The Straits Times reported.

MINDEF said that Kwan failed to register for NS in 1990 and stayed overseas without a valid exit permit. He is wanted for defaulting on his NS obligations and is liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years upon conviction. No wonder he MIA at the premiere of the movie at Capitol Theatre.

Wah lau eh, quite shameless lor. Moved overseas since 11 years old and then still want to brag about his childhood life in Singapore, including his favourite wanton mee in Newton Hawker Centre (like seriously). Chao defaulter! Make use of Singapore to brag to sell his books and movie, as if he is a true-blue Singaporean.

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But while we are disgusted with this turn of events, we also need see how Singapore has benefited from the exposure because of this movie.

The movie took in a strong $25.2 million at North American theaters over its opening weekend, easily enough for No. 1. It was the best result for a PG-13 romantic comedy in six years.  The tally put it in the company of other big-budget films like Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which made US$34.3 million over four days during its opening week. Really quite incredible!

Not just the box office is good, reviews have been good too. It managed to achieve 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the critics praised it for having “a terrific cast and a surfeit of visual razzle dazzle.” Don’t play play hor, this is really quite a glowing review.

And it really featured Singapore in the movie, not just lip service only. The Singapore Film Commission facilitated the filming in Singapore locations, such as Gardens By The Bay and Newton Circus.

Already from the movie’s trailer, we can see a lot of Singapore already. The Straits Times listed out the Singapore places and artistes featured in the trailer:

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The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) also made sure to to market Singapore big big to maximize the exposure. It organised a three-day event earlier this month in Los Angeles known as the Crazy Rich Singapore Week. The event introduced Singapore-themed cocktails, food, and art in hip L.A. rooftop bar The Highlight Room by Tao Group.

STB also quickly offered a Crazy Rich Asians-themed tour package by Indus Travel, where guests will be able to tour locations featured in the film, including Merlion Park, cultural enclaves and Gardens by the Bay. Tours offering local guides to bring visitors to the places featured in the movie have also popped up. So that’s quite a bit of business opportunities there.

And why these government agencies want to support the production? Not just the marketing rewards that it can bring since it is set in Singapore, but we also have 12 Singapore artistes and 297 production crew working on the movie:

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This is huge for them- how many people gets a chance to work on a Hollywood movie? Some more an artiste from a small market like Singapore. The kind of exposure and experience they get is priceless one.

This is what Pierre Png said in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar Singapore on acting in Hollywood: “I’m excited. It’s every entertainer’s dream to make it to the world stage. To be in a Hollywood production, and on top of that, one that’s billed as being the only movie with an all-Asian cast after Joy Luck Club, is amazing. And to play a Singaporean in my Hollywood debut? It’s more than I could ever have asked for.”

STB also supported the Singapore cast members in Los Angeles by pitching them for interviews and press opportunities in the United States.

More importantly, we hope they can use what they learn to enhance themselves and the local film industry. So MediaCorp, ahem, we hope to see better shows from you soon ok?

Ms Lynette Pang, STB’s assistant chief executive, marketing group, said: “Due to the large Singaporean cast and crew involved in the production, STB is also focusing our marketing message around our home-grown talents and personalities as they are a key anchor of our Passion Made Possible brand. The film shines a spotlight on them, and how they are making their passions possible on a global stage.”

So I know lah, sometimes we scoff at this kind of marketing stuff, but we need to admit that this is not bad right. And no matter what we like to grumble about life here, I’m sure we can agree it is nice to see Singapore being seen so positively right.

Oh, if you have any overseas friends who may be interested to visit Singapore after watching the movie, maybe try to bring them to the other hawker centres beside Newton, please.