Crazy Rich Asians pushes Singapore into the spotlight

PHOTO: Warner Bros

Touted as a Hollywood watershed, Crazy Rich Asians has been making international headlines as the first Hollywood movie in 25 years to feature a majority Asian cast – a feat not matched since The Joy Luck Club in 1993.

Not only is the romcom widely considered a win for Asians and Asian-Americans, it is also a victory for Singapore.

Opening here on Aug 22, the highly anticipated film was partly shot on our sunny shores and has pushed Singapore and Singaporeans into the spotlight.

Involving almost 300 Singaporean and permanent resident cast members and production crew, Crazy Rich Asians is set to make the world take notice of the little island.

Singapore actors Fiona Xie, Pierre Png work the Crazy Rich Asians red carpet in LA

Raffles Hotel, Cluny Park, Newton Food Centre, Changi Airport, Chijmes, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Merlion Park, Esplanade Park, Ann Siang Hill, a Bukit Pasoh cafe and East Coast Parkway made appearances.

Local actors Pierre Png, Tan Kheng Hua, Fiona Xie, Koh Chieng Mun, Janice Koh and Amy Cheng had starring roles.

Ms Lynette Pang, assistant chief executive (marketing group) of Singapore Tourism Board (STB), told The New Paper: “As the movie is set in Singapore and showcases (it) in a way that celebrates Singapore’s culture, food and attractions, it is a natural opening to get the conversation going about the real Singapore and pique interest in visiting the country.”

She said while it might not be possible to “immediately quantify returns” from the movie, STB does “expect the exposure to help bolster greater global awareness of our destination and this could potentially attract more visitors over time”.

Crazy Rich Asians PHOTO: WARNER BROS

According to Ms Pang, Singapore has already garnered positive media coverage in publications such as Vogue, Bloomberg, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, CNN Travel, The Hollywood Reporter and USA Today. They have run travel guides and destination features.

The Singapore Film Commission (SFC) supported Crazy Rich Asians via the Production Assistance grant.

According to Mr Joachim Ng, director of SFC, the movie has benefited the local media industry ecosystem by facilitating the exchange of skills and experiences and providing exposure for home-grown talent.

These include the 12 cast members and 297 production crew – 20 of whom were interns and fresh graduates from the Nanyang Technological University, LaSalle College of the Arts and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Infinite Studios – the local company that worked on action flick Hitman: Agent 47 (2015) and sci-fi romance Equals (2015), which were partially shot in Singapore – was the local production partner, and Crazy Rich Asians has also enhanced its capabilities of handling large-scale film production.

Mr Ng added that other industries including hospitality, food and beverage and transport have also benefited from the shoot.

For instance, hotels such as Grand Hyatt Singapore, Carlton Hotel Singapore and Marina Bay Sands handled accommodation for the foreign crew.

In the meantime, STB is also working with film studio Warner Bros and other partners to leverage on the movie’s upcoming release in markets such as the US, Australia, Japan and South-east Asia.

In the US, STB organised the Crazy Rich Singapore Week from Aug 9 to 11 in partnership with premier restaurant and nightlife group Tao Group.

The event featured Singapore personalities such as chef Malcolm Lee of Michelin-starred Candlenut, award-winning mixologist Peter Chua, pop and street artist Jahan Loh and DJ Koflow.

Ms Pang said STB is also focusing its marketing message around the homegrown talents and personalities as they are a key anchor of the Passion Made Possible brand.

She added: “The film shines a spotlight on them, and how they are making their passions possible on a global stage. “Through them, we believe the story of Singapore, and how it is Passion Made Possible, can also be told.”

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.