In the Heights was ready to debut on June 26. Then, the coronavirus hit.
But its director, John M. Chu, isn’t giving up on the movie being in theaters — or on his other latest projects.
“What we are committed to is, it’s going to be in a theater. It has to be in a theater. It demands to be in a theater,” Chu said in an interview with Variety. “This community lived a life that deserves to be on the big screen and celebrated in the biggest magical way, [and] we’re going to deliver that.”
Anthony Ramos stars as bodega owner Usnavi de la Vega in the 2020 adaptation, which is based off of Hamilton‘s director and lead actor Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical. Both the play and movie take place in Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York, with drama of financial and romantic proportions.
Although Chu is not sure when of In the Heights will hit theaters, screenings of the film’s early cuts had already begun when the coronavirus pandemic, or COVID-19, hit. But the official release date had to be put on hold “indefinitely.”
“We’re gonna have a date. It’s just about if we choose a date now, we’d probably have to shift it later. So, we’re not going to commit to one now,” Chu said on the Variety After-Show.
In the meantime, Chu is focused on a project of his own, the Apple TV Plus series Home After Dark.
Chu executive-produced and directed several episodes of the mystery drama, which stars Brooklynn Prince as an intrepid preteen journalist uncovering the secrets of her new hometown. The currently-streaming series is based off of the 9-year-old journalist Hilde Lysiak, who broke the story of a homicide in her local paper, the “Orange Street News,” according to Collider.
“We teach our kids to be truthful, and yet we lie to them, on a constant basis,” said Chu of the show’s conflict-ridden premise of deception. “And having a daughter and trying to figure out how I was going to raise her, all of these things felt very relevant to me.”
Chu is no stranger to directing, with his main hit being 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians, the first film since The Joy Luck Club to star an all-Asian American cast. (A sequel is still in works, albeit without a release date.)
As of now, the coronavirus hasn’t just affected his upcoming film, but his personal life. He was one of many Asian Americans who objected to former 2020 Democratic candidate Andrew Yang’s op-ed in The Washington Post, which asked Asian Americans to “show our American-ness in ways we never have before” in response to anti-Asian sentiment amid the coronavirus.
“Listen, I don’t think there’s any place for a person to ‘prove’ their American-ness. We were born here. I live here. We are here. That should be that. It’s not on us to fix those issues,” Chu said to Variety.
Although he refused to “go after” Yang, the Los Angeles-based Chu brought up his own experience.
“The fact that I have to be conscious of taking a walk around the block is mind-blowing to me,” he said. “‘Not to be racist’ seems to be a very simple idea at a time where we actually have to worry about defending against these invisible enemies.
“I’m just disappointed. It’s 2020. Why are we even having to put up with these conversations anymore?”
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story.