Chinese Audiences Debate Chinese-ness of ‘The Farewell’

Movie about Chinese culture, set in China, wows American audiences but flops in mainland premiere.

The award-winning, record-breaking dramedy “The Farewell” raked in a lackluster 1.98 million yuan ($350,700) at the box office in its opening weekend on the Chinese mainland — less than a quarter of the 8.6 million yuan “Crazy Rich Asians,” another Hollywood film about a Chinese family, made in the country over its own weekend premiere just over a year ago.

The more recent film’s China debut comes six months after its U.S. release, and less than a week after lead actor Awkwafina won a Golden Globe for best actress in a musical or comedy, becoming the first woman of Asian descent to win the award in any category.

“The Farewell” — or “Don’t Tell Her,” as it’s called in Chinese — follows a Chinese-American writer, Billi, as she returns to her family’s ancestral home, the northeastern Rust Belt city of Changchun, to visit her grandmother, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

The grandmother, or Nai Nai, as she’s affectionately called in the film, believes the cancer is benign: The film hinges on the fact that her family have opted not to tell the elderly woman that her illness is terminal, convinced that doing so would cause her unnecessary emotional stress.

After a quiet opening weekend at just four theaters in the U.S. in July, the $3 million production received glowing reviews — including 98% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes — and was eventually picked up by nearly 900 theaters. To date, it has raked in $17.7 million at the U.S. box office.

But “The Farewell” seems unlikely to achieve the same success in China. Continue to read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.