Big announcement yesterday! The Joy Luck Club is getting a sequel!
A â€œJoy Luck Club 2" is happening! The original cast is in talks to return to their roles as mothers and grandmothers. The film will also highlight a new generation of Asian female-identifying actors, from granddaughters to supporting roles.— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) October 12, 2022
h/t @scatepark https://t.co/Ht7uyCW6bX
Based on Amy Tan’s bestselling book of the same name, The Joy Luck Club was released in 1993, featuring a predominantly all-East Asian cast, and has become one of the most beloved films in the East Asian community. But despite its success, it would be another 25 years before a major Hollywood studio produced another film featuring East Asian storylines and characters. That was Crazy Rich Asians.
Janet Yang was a producer on The Joy Luck Club and is now the President of the Oscar Academy. When Crazy Rich Asians came out, Janet did an interview with NPR about the connection between the two films and she recalled how, even though the studio agreed to make the movie, even though they’d already invested in its production, when it came time to selling it, they had reservations about how to promote it:
“We were going there to look at posters that they were going to consider for marketing "Joy Luck Club." And each and every one somehow managed to avoid showing full-on an Asian face. One was, as I recall, a woodcut. So it was very abstract and angular. Another showed the backs of women.
They clearly were nervous about showing an Asian face in, you know, a larger-than-life image. And it was ironic because we thought, well, they went and greenlit this movie. We just shot the whole thing. They say they love the movie, and now they're afraid to sell it.”
Now, almost 30 years later, have things changed? I mean of course, there needs to be more change, much more change. But there has been some change. After all, it was a year ago yesterday that the most popular, most-watched television show around the world was a South Korean series also featuring a predominantly Asian cast and spoken almost entirely in Korean. That, of course, was Squid Game. Yesterday was the anniversary of the Squid Game milestone.
Squid Game has officially reached 111 million fans â€” making it our biggest series launch ever! pic.twitter.com/SW3FJ42Qsn— Netflix (@netflix) October 12, 2021
Squid Game would go on to win major awards at the SAGs and multiple Emmys. And unlike The Joy Luck Club, it didn’t take three decades for Netflix to sign off on another season of Squid Game. Pre-production is currently underway and filming should begin early next year. So, yes, there’s progress, no doubt. But Squid Game had to do the most, literally, to just get level with other projects that don’t have nearly the same numbers.
This past summer, a Korean series called Extraordinary Attorney Woo, pulled in very big numbers for Netflix through July and August. Not Squid Game numbers but big enough that “only one English-language show [was doing] better: Stranger Things”. Indeed, at one point this summer, Extraordinary Attorney Woo (and yes, it’s worth your time, you should definitely watch it) was the most-watched show in Netflix’s catalogue, period. But I bet most of you reading this have never heard of it and that’s what I mean when I say that Squid Game had to do the most. If it was even second best the story would be totally different. BIPOC content is still excluded from the privilege of being mediocre.
So while The Joy Luck Club 2 is coming into a marginally more inclusive space, there will still be challenges. More on the sequel in the next few weeks and months. For now, though, here’s some Squid Game intrigue. The Busan International Film Festival kicked off last week and concludes tomorrow. A year after the release of Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings, Tony Leung was named Asian Filmmaker of the Year and he attended the event with Carina Lau, his wife. Who posted these shot of Tony hanging out with Squid Game showrunner Hwang Dong-hyuk – note the caption:
I’m… pretty sure Carina was joking? Or maybe she wasn’t? Imagine if Tony Leung shows up in Squid Game 2?!
Yours in gossip,