Diversity-focused nonprofit Gold House is launching an entertainment advisory council made up of industry leaders and a Golden Rider initiative to incentivize diverse representation in film, starting with the Asian diaspora. Both the council and rider are through the organization’s #GoldOpen venture, which supports the opening weekends of multicultural films.
The council — whose members include Albert Cheng (COO & head of TV, Amazon Studios), Abhijay Prakash (president, Universal Film Entertainment Group), Kim Yutani (Sundance Film Festival) and Franklin Leonard (The Black List) — will advise on which films will receive #GoldOpen support in the form of theater buyouts for screenings, social media and press campaigns and global distribution opportunities. Movies that have received such support since the venture’s inception in 2017 include “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Parasite” and “Just Mercy.”
In an announcement, the organization stated that #GoldOpen films will need to sign the Golden Rider, an educational agreement that acknowledges the significance of multicultural audiences.
Gold House founder and chairman Bing Chen told Variety exclusively that while phase one of the #GoldOpen venture started with the box office success of “Crazy Rich Asians,” this next phase is focused on deeper industry reach.
“That’s why phase two [includes] an advisory council to ensure that #GoldOpen’s coverage is as comprehensive as possible — leaving no story unlit — and a Golden Rider to ensure that, from day one, the industry is aware of and embraces our community’s criticality at the box office,” Chen said.
This comes just one week after Oscar nominations were announced, with “Parasite” becoming the first South Korean film to be nominated for best picture and best international feature. But the critically acclaimed drama “The Farewell” — written and directed by Lulu Wang and starring Awkwafina — failed to garner any nods.
“For the Asian community, it was good news and bad news this year,” film producer Janet Yang, Gold House co-founder and an Academy board governor, told Variety in an emailed statement. “‘Parasite’s’ recognition in so many major categories — best picture, best director, best original screenplay and best editing, not to mention best international feature — is, of course, huge cause for celebration. The omission of ‘The Farewell’ in any category, a movie that was arguably equally beloved, is of course a massive disappointment. This quiet, low-budget movie managed to carve a path onto the best lists of top critics around the country, as well as into the hearts of a very sizable audience. Perhaps there wasn’t enough room for two Asian movies?”
The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences has doubled the number of women and people of color in its membership since launching the A2020 initiative in 2016. Sixteen percent of its nearly 9,000 members are people of color.
“[The change] that many of us want to see must come from the industry at large — the financiers and decision-makers, agents and managers, publicists and critics — well before Oscar time rolls around,” Yang said.
The #GoldOpen lineup in 2020 includes “Birds of Prey,” “Mulan” and “No Time to Die.”