Crazy Rich Asians filmed in luxurious locations across Singapore and Malaysia
The feature film, which had a budget of USD30 million, follows Asian-American economics professor Rachel Chu, played by Constance Wu (Fresh off the Boat, The Feels) as she travels to Singapore with boyfriend Nick Young, played by Henry Golding, who just happens to be heir to one of the wealthiest families in the country. Singapore’s imposing skyline and contemporary architecture provides the backdrop as Rachel finds herself plunged into high society.
The cast and crew made use of locations from the Gardens by the Bay, Raffles Hotel through to the Marina Bay Sands Skypark, which hosts the largest rooftop infinity pool in the world. Director Jon M. Chu shares that “I was fascinated by this idea of the city of the future, with its mix of nature and modern buildings, that at the same time has this tropical colonial style about it”. The city itself was essential in telling the story, Chu notes that “the island is just such a mishmash of commerce, of cultures, of food, of fashion. I wanted to show that both visually and through the characters.”
However, Singapore’s impressive modern architecture was not right for some scenes. Shots of the Young family home were filmed in Malaysia. Chu argues that “what makes the fictional Tyersall Park, this sort of Central Park within the tight squeeze of Singapore, such an amazing location in the book those properties just don’t exist anymore”.
The cast and crew remained in Malaysia to film scenes in Langkawi, an archipelago home to 99 islands in the Andaman Sea which provided the location for a picturesque island paradise. Chu recalls “We took a boat around some bends in Langkawi where all of these rocks just jut out of the water” where a small ten-person crew filmed scenes.
Malaysia was able to host the filming due to an established production sector, having been one of the first Southeast Asian countries to introduce a cash rebate incentive in 2013. The Film in Malaysia Incentive is a 30% rebate available to Feature and Documentary films, Fictional and Documentary TV series as well as Short films and post-production spending. Unusually, the incentive extends to Commercials and Reality TV shows. The broad incentive depends on the use of local cast and crew, and a minimum of MYR5 million must be spent locally.
Although the film couldn’t benefit from any formal incentive scheme in Singapore, the film did receive support from the Singapore Film Commission. The commission often supplies grants to co-productions between Singapore based Infinite Studios and major Hollywood production companies. This type of support is part of a bid to become an international production hub to equal cities of similar status in Southeast Asia such as Tokyo and Bangkok. Joachim NG, Director of the Singapore Film Commission welcomes productions like these that “hone the skills of our talent to take on big projects”. Crazy Rich Asians is the biggest Hollywood production to film in Singapore, following Hitman: Agent 47 in 2014 and Kristen Stewart’s Equals in 2015.
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