‘Forbidden Kingdom’ is No Surprise to Us

What film won the weekend box office ending April 20, 2008?

“Forbidden Kingdom,” the first film produced through Weinstein Co.’s recent commitment to Asian cinema, topped the box office this weekend, beating out the heavily advertised and comedic odds on favorite “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” The film brings together legendary martial arts start Jackie Chan and Jet Li, offering fans the first-ever cinematic show down between the two. [See trailers and find other information on the movie here.]

While the news may have surprised many in Hollywood, those of us who are even a little bit familiar with the under 25 age set know that there has been a cultural revolution taking place for years now, one that the Hollywood mainstream still can’t seem to fully get their heads around. It’s a revolution inspired and led by foreign imports, manga and other graphic novels, video games, and other forms of media largely outside of the mainstream but hugely successful with a core base of consumers.

This shift has also been accompanied (and in some ways even resultant to) a shift in immigration over the last 40 years, as waves of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants settle in the U.S. (and not just California) in increasing numbers and their children (or even grandchildren) participate in the cultural formation that is Asian America.

Today, this diverse demographic of Asian Americans and others (whites, Latinos, etc.) are the primary consumers of the new media produced in and (more importantly) imported to the U.S. This weekend, they represented the key demographic to make “Forbidden Kingdom” the number one movie in the nation. [See the report with figures here.]

What’s the lesson? Hollywood needs to stop thinking like the typical movie goer is white teenage boy and realize that youth of color and their tastes are so significantly part of the U.S. that they are even shifting how that 15-year-old teenage boy picks a movie.

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