The new indie film, “The Farewell,” continues to haul in substantial earnings after raking in $1,171,570 in the U.S. in its second weekend in theaters. The film now has an estimated gross-to-date total of $1,674,997.
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The comedy-drama featuring "Crazy Rich Asians" star Awkwafina surpassed the Disney-owned Marvel Studios superhero franchise, as "Endgame" was in 4,662 theaters while "The Farewell" made its debut in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York.
"Everyone loves their own grandmother, they can really relate to this story,” the movie’s director, Lulu Wang, shared with FOX Business about what contributed to the film's "gold open."
“We've all loved and lost. It's not just about culture, it's universality.” Wang added. “The mother in the movie in so many ways is so many people's mother."
"The Farewell," tells the story of a struggling writer, Billi (Awkwafina), from New York traveling to her birthplace in Changchun, China to say goodbye to her grandmother, "Nainai," who’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer. In Chinese culture, it's considered rude and bad luck to tell the elderly such news. Therefore, the family keeps the illness from the beloved matriarch and staged a wedding for Billi's cousin to bring all of Nainai's children and grandchildren back to their hometown for one last reunion.
The film, which has received a 100 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, features an all-Asian cast following Warner Brothers' "Crazy Rich Asians" smash success last year. It's based on Wang's family story and brings together a diverse, three-generation cast including Awkwafina (Billi), Tzi Ma (Dad), Diana Lin (Mom) and Zhao Shuzhen (Grandma).
"I thought to make all the characters very human, so I look for actors that are both very human and iconic,” the director said when asked how she selected the cast members.
Wang told FOX Business that she and the "Crazy Rich Asians" star shared a special bond, in that “Awkwafina has a personal connection to the script as she was raised by her own Chinese grandmother. And she was really able to express her emotions, and you could see all the internal conflicts on her face."
"The Farewell's" record box office results underscore the importance of representation in Hollywood.
"I felt the pressure for sure, for a film like this because if it does well, it will have an effect on the industry, and can affect whether other projects get greenlit," Wang said. "So a gold open is important to bring the community to continue to support the kind of films we like to see get made."
Gold House, a collective of Asian leaders dedicated to cross-cultural collaboration, has joined screenwriter and producer Lena Waithe ("Master of None") among others in supporting this movie in a #GoldOpen movement, which previously also boosted the popularity of "Crazy Rich Asians."
Besides the celebrity endorsement, James Kuk, a #GoldOpen lead, told FOX Business that the film’s word of mouth speaks for itself.
"It’s beloved by both the community and critics," he said. "It's very specific to a certain community's experience while simultaneously speaking to one of humanity's most universal themes: family."
"The Farewell" is now screening in multiple locations, including New York, Boston, and Los Angeles; it will hit theaters nationwide on Aug. 2.
Wang hopes this is the story that will speak to all Americans regardless of their background.
"We want to continue to tell stories that show the full texture, full landscape of this country."