It's official: Cloud Atlas is a flop. At least in the United States. Made for a reported $100 million, the book adaptation barely scratched $10 million in its opening weekend — but some observers say the film could make a tidy profit overseas, where most of its funding came from. Still, it's hard not to ask: Did the film's controversial use of "Yellowface" — white actors wearing clumsy makeup to make them Asian — alienate its natural audience Stateside?
After all, this is a film with a liberal political message, about "sticking it to the man." And the Wachowskis have a big following among lefties — but sticking people like Hugo Weaving into Asian roles seems just guaranteed to push away the movie's natural constituency. (Although consider the irony — the film's distributors are apparently expecting it to make insane amounts of money in China, where it will be shown over the Chinese New Year.)
Last week, when we were emailing with Asian American fans about Iron Man 3's new villain, we also asked them about Cloud Atlas, and how big a problem its "Yellowface" actually is. Here's what they told us: