Crazy Rich Asians filmed Malaysia as global locations

Hit comedy movie Crazy Rich Asians is set in Singapore but filmed extensively on location in Malaysia.

Hit comedy movie Crazy Rich Asians is set in Singapore but filmed extensively in Malaysia.

The story follows American-Asian woman Rachel as she travels to Singapore for the wedding of her partner Nick’s best friend, only to discover that her boyfriend’s family, the Youngs, are one of the wealthiest in the country and are only too happy to flaunt their fortune.

Crazy Rich Asians filmed Malaysia as global locations
Crazy Rich Asians

Directed by Jon M Chu, Crazy Rich Asians has been an international hit and hailed as a landmark in terms of its representation of Asian characters.

Despite its Singapore setting, many of the movie’s key locations were found in Malaysia.

Locations in Kuala Lumpur stood in for New York, where the story starts, and the city’s airport doubled for New York’s JFK.

Tyersall Park, the fictional sprawling estate that in the context of the story has been home to the Young family for generations, was created by combining a pair of mansions at Perdana Botanical Gardens, also in Kuala Lumpur.

Both mansions were originally residences of the British governor of the Singapore region in the early 1900s. They eventually found second lives as hotels but had been closed by the time Chu and his team discovered them. Both properties were extensively renovated for the Crazy Rich Asians shoot, with one building used for exterior shots and the other dressed and decorated for interior scenes.

“We wanted the interiors to feel regal, with a restrained beauty and formality,” says Nelson Coates, the film’s production designer.

“There’s symmetry to the furniture, as in many Peranakan homes [a distinct cultural hybrid that has evolved as a mix of south-east Asian and European influences], but it’s a home that’s been lived in and seen lots of children come and go. Jon was very keen for the house to be accessible, so the palette and the way the rooms flow into each other was important.

“We used the huge archways and augmented everything with more mouldings, wallpapers and paint, carpets, glazing and gilding, and the result was remarkable.

Crazy Rich Asians

"We even restored a beautiful herringbone floor we found underneath the floorboards.”

The wedding of Nick’s best friend is the centrepiece of the story and in the narrative is realised as an extravagant showcase of wealth. Chu chose to shoot these scenes at the renowned Singaporean entertainment venue Chijmes.

Singapore is not well established as a production hub and does not offer conventional incentive support. However, producers can find local logistical assistance through the Singapore Film Commission.

The city state does periodically attract higher-profile international features, like the action sequel Hitman: Agent 47 that shot locally in 2014.

Malaysia is one of south-east Asia’s more film-friendly countries and offers a 30% cash rebate as a production incentive. International producers need to spend the equivalent of around €1m for features, or about €80,000 per screen hour for TV projects.

Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios has five sound stages in the Johor region of southern Malaysia, less than an hour’s drive from Singapore. The facility hosted two seasons of Netflix’s historical drama Marco Polo, and this year has been the home of the UK action series Strike Back.

Images: Warner Bros Entertainment Inc/RatPac-Dune Entertainment

Crazy Rich Asians filmed Malaysia as global locations
Crazy Rich Asians

Hit comedy movie Crazy Rich Asians is set in Singapore but filmed extensively in Malaysia.

The story follows American-Asian woman Rachel as she travels to Singapore for the wedding of her partner Nick’s best friend, only to discover that her boyfriend’s family, the Youngs, are one of the wealthiest in the country and are only too happy to flaunt their fortune.

Directed by Jon M Chu, Crazy Rich Asians has been an international hit and hailed as a landmark in terms of its representation of Asian characters.

Despite its Singapore setting, many of the movie’s key locations were found in Malaysia.

Locations in Kuala Lumpur stood in for New York, where the story starts, and the city’s airport doubled for New York’s JFK.

Tyersall Park, the fictional sprawling estate that in the context of the story has been home to the Young family for generations, was created by combining a pair of mansions at Perdana Botanical Gardens, also in Kuala Lumpur.

Both mansions were originally residences of the British governor of the Singapore region in the early 1900s. They eventually found second lives as hotels but had been closed by the time Chu and his team discovered them. Both properties were extensively renovated for the Crazy Rich Asians shoot, with one building used for exterior shots and the other dressed and decorated for interior scenes.

“We wanted the interiors to feel regal, with a restrained beauty and formality,” says Nelson Coates, the film’s production designer.

“There’s symmetry to the furniture, as in many Peranakan homes [a distinct cultural hybrid that has evolved as a mix of south-east Asian and European influences], but it’s a home that’s been lived in and seen lots of children come and go. Jon was very keen for the house to be accessible, so the palette and the way the rooms flow into each other was important.

“We used the huge archways and augmented everything with more mouldings, wallpapers and paint, carpets, glazing and gilding, and the result was remarkable.

Crazy Rich Asians

"We even restored a beautiful herringbone floor we found underneath the floorboards.”

The wedding of Nick’s best friend is the centrepiece of the story and in the narrative is realised as an extravagant showcase of wealth. Chu chose to shoot these scenes at the renowned Singaporean entertainment venue Chijmes.

Singapore is not well established as a production hub and does not offer conventional incentive support. However, producers can find local logistical assistance through the Singapore Film Commission.

The city state does periodically attract higher-profile international features, like the action sequel Hitman: Agent 47 that shot locally in 2014.

Malaysia is one of south-east Asia’s more film-friendly countries and offers a 30% cash rebate as a production incentive. International producers need to spend the equivalent of around €1m for features, or about €80,000 per screen hour for TV projects.

Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios has five sound stages in the Johor region of southern Malaysia, less than an hour’s drive from Singapore. The facility hosted two seasons of Netflix’s historical drama Marco Polo, and this year has been the home of the UK action series Strike Back.

Images: Warner Bros Entertainment Inc/RatPac-Dune Entertainment

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