'Crazy Rich Asians' draws immigrant parents to theaters, some for first time in years

The summer romantic comedy "Crazy Rich Asians" not only nabbed the top spot at the box office in its opening weekend, but it's also been drawing immigrant parents to U.S. theaters.

Enthusiastic younger Asian-Americans have been flocking to the movies with their parents to see the first movie in 25 years with an all-Asian cast.

For many older, first-generation Asian immigrants, the crowds, language barrier and ticket prices often deter their movie-going experience.

"My parents rarely go out to the theater because usually they can't understand English as well," said Michelle Vuong, 24, who took her Chinese immigrant parents to a theater in Monterey Park, Calif. "'Crazy Rich Asians' had Cantonese, Mandarin dialogue, actors who were all Asian, and a story I think is relevant to my life."

The appeal of "Crazy Rich Asians" is the story of a culture clash that erupts when an Asian-American woman from New York meets her boyfriend's family in Singapore, confronting a real-life generation gap.

"Themes like sacrificial love, because my parents sacrificed a lot for me as well," Vuong told Fox News, adding that the East-versus-West Asian culture clash is something she thought her parents would understand.

Many young Asian-Americans who've seen "Crazy Rich Asians" have returned to theaters with their parents for a second viewing.

Many young Asian-Americans who've seen "Crazy Rich Asians" have returned to theaters with their parents for a second viewing. (Associated Press)

An adaptation of Kevin Kwan's bestselling novel, the rom-com is poised to hit the $100 million mark due to its popularity and a lack of strong competition in the next month, comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said.

"The over-performance of "Crazy Rich Asians" shows the power of a great movie with universal themes to draw all audiences and also to break down preconceived notions of what can constitute a box office hit," Dergarabedian said.

Vuong, a Southern California native, said her father had not been to a movie theater since "Titanic" in 1997.

"Before 'Crazy Rich Asians,' I’ve never seen elderly Asian-American patrons in the theater. When I sat in the theater [for "'Crazy Rich Asians'], I saw people bringing their moms, dads, grandparents," said Vuong, who watched it for the second time with her parents.

"Before 'Crazy Rich Asians,' I’ve never seen elderly Asian American patrons in the theater. When I sat in the theater, I saw people bringing their moms, dads, grandparents."

— Michelle Vuong

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Lie Shia Ong-Sintzel, 36, of Seattle, talked her parents into coming along, also the second time she saw the movie. It was the first time in five years the couple — Chinese immigrants from Indonesia — had been to the cinema.

"I looked over again, my dad was wiping tears from his eyes," Ong-Sintzel said.

The stars and director Jon M. Chu have said they wanted the film to showcase Asians who weren't stereotypes or little-used side-players.

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In Temple City, Calif., Catherine Fanchiang, 27, who is Taiwanese-American, went to see the film a third time to keep her parents company.

Michelle Yeoh, from left, Henry Golding and Constance Wu in a scene from the film "Crazy Rich Asians." When “Crazy Rich Asians” surpassed expectations and grabbed the top spot in its opening weekend.

Michelle Yeoh, from left, Henry Golding and Constance Wu in a scene from the film "Crazy Rich Asians." When “Crazy Rich Asians” surpassed expectations and grabbed the top spot in its opening weekend. (Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

Fanchiang's mother, Kao Han Fan, also wanted to see the movie because she recognized Michelle Yeoh, who plays a wary matriarch. But it was Wu's character who touched the 64-year-old the most. Fan said she liked how the story depicted an "ABC," (American-born Chinese) who showed Asian cultural values such as putting family first.

"When you grow up in an Asian family ... it will be in your mind when you do something, you will always think about other people," Fan said. "You are not really, really selfish, thinking about yourself."

"When you grow up in an Asian family ... it will be in your mind when you do something, you will always think about other people. ... You are not really, really selfish, thinking about yourself."

— Kao Han Fan

Earning more than $40 million since its Aug. 15 release, the film already has a sequel in development.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.