The Joy Luck Club (1993)

R | 139 mins | Drama | 1993

Director:

Wayne Wang

Writers:

Amy Tan, Ronald Bass

Cinematographer:

Amir Mokri

Editor:

Maysie Hoy

Production Designer:

Donald Graham Burt
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HISTORY

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Kathy Morrow, a student at University of Washington, Seattle, with Jennifer Bean as academic advisor.

Voiceover narration for every major character except “Suyuan” accompanies the portions of the plot devoted to their respective stories.
       End credits contain the written statement, “All of us will miss Hsu Ying Li.” Also in the end credits, producers thank the following individuals and organizations: China Film Co. – Production Corp.; People’s Republic of China; Armstrong and Hirsch, legal counsel; David A. Hayden, China legal counsel; I. A. T. S. E. Local 16, Eddie Powell; Evelyn’s Antiques, Michael Morell; Berkeley Mill & Furniture Co., Gene Agress; Chinatown Resource Center; Chinese Historical Society of America; Northwest Airlines; Shanghai Film Studio; City of San Francisco; and City of Berkeley.
       Director Wayne Wang and author Amy Tan first met in 1989 at San Francisco’s Clift Hotel, as stated in a 5 Sep 1993 NYT article. Tan was impressed by Wang’s hesitance about the project, as he admitted that it scared him, and stated that others who had approached her were incredibly eager but lacked a vision for the potentially difficult adaptation of her novel.
       A 5 Oct 1992 Var news item announced that Oliver Stone’s production company, Ixtlan Productions, was developing the project, with Wang set to direct and Tan co-writing the screenplay with Ron Bass. In a 5 Sep 1993 NYT article, Bernard Weinraub credited Bass with making two major changes to Tan’s original story: the addition of “June’s” farewell party that served as ... More Less

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Kathy Morrow, a student at University of Washington, Seattle, with Jennifer Bean as academic advisor.

Voiceover narration for every major character except “Suyuan” accompanies the portions of the plot devoted to their respective stories.
       End credits contain the written statement, “All of us will miss Hsu Ying Li.” Also in the end credits, producers thank the following individuals and organizations: China Film Co. – Production Corp.; People’s Republic of China; Armstrong and Hirsch, legal counsel; David A. Hayden, China legal counsel; I. A. T. S. E. Local 16, Eddie Powell; Evelyn’s Antiques, Michael Morell; Berkeley Mill & Furniture Co., Gene Agress; Chinatown Resource Center; Chinese Historical Society of America; Northwest Airlines; Shanghai Film Studio; City of San Francisco; and City of Berkeley.
       Director Wayne Wang and author Amy Tan first met in 1989 at San Francisco’s Clift Hotel, as stated in a 5 Sep 1993 NYT article. Tan was impressed by Wang’s hesitance about the project, as he admitted that it scared him, and stated that others who had approached her were incredibly eager but lacked a vision for the potentially difficult adaptation of her novel.
       A 5 Oct 1992 Var news item announced that Oliver Stone’s production company, Ixtlan Productions, was developing the project, with Wang set to direct and Tan co-writing the screenplay with Ron Bass. In a 5 Sep 1993 NYT article, Bernard Weinraub credited Bass with making two major changes to Tan’s original story: the addition of “June’s” farewell party that served as a “’wraparound’ device” for the different characters’ narratives, and voice-over narration. According to a 27 Jun 1993 LAT article, though Ixtlan initially planned to finance the development through Carolco Pictures, funding was lost due to financial troubles at Carolco, and Tan, Bass, and Wang developed the script on their own. When the screenplay was finished, they delivered it to Ixtlan, and, in spring 1992, Disney’s Hollywood Pictures came on board to produce and distribute the film.
       Casting took place over several months in North America and England, as stated in production notes found at AMPAS library. According to a 5 Sep 1993 LAT article, there were sixty speaking parts in the film, and fifty of those were women. Almost thirty of the speaking parts were played by Mandarin-speaking actors. Wang and Tan encouraged the cast to bond by arranging large dinners after rehearsals. Bass commented that the lead actresses developed “a sisterhood” partly because of the groundbreaking nature of the project and the chance it provided the women to play complex roles unlike the clichéd Asian characters they often encountered. According to LAT, The Joy Luck Club marked “the first time that a major studio…financed a film in which the majority of the cast, the director, the film editor, the costume designer and two of the producers…[were] Asian.”
       A 7 Sep 1993 LAT news item reported the budget as $11 million, though it was listed as $10.5 million in two separate NYT articles dated 5 Sep 1993. According to a 26 Jan 1993 HR production charts listing, filming began 9 Nov 1992. The first ten weeks of production took place in San Francisco, CA. According to production notes, in order to depict authentic Chinese-American households, production designer Donald Graham visited the homes of Chinese families in San Francisco to grasp the mixture of American and Chinese cultures typical of the residences. Locations within San Francisco included the streets of Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, and the historic Fioli Estate, a mansion built between 1915 and 1917 that doubled for a mansion in China. Filming also took place at the University of California at Berkeley. The final six weeks of the shoot took place in China. Though logistics proved difficult there, the production managed to draw many background actors, and on one day when 1,000 people were needed for a crowd scene, 2,500 showed up, dressed for their roles.
       Critical reception was very positive. In a 7 Sep 1993 HR review, Duane Byrge pointed to the film’s 138 minute running time as its only weakness, but the 8 Sep 1993 NYT review described The Joy Luck Club as “streamlined despite its…running time.” Wang’s direction was uniformly praised, as were performances, the script, and other technical aspects. The 13 Sep 1993 Var review stated that Wang made a “move into the mainstream” with The Joy Luck Club after years of working on independent productions, and lauded the director for maintaining his intimate style while tackling a story with a larger scope and emotional breadth.
       According to a 10 Sep 1993 HR report, the film set a record for the Walt Disney Company as “the strongest Wednesday opening for a limited-release live-action film in the studio’s history,” taking in $34,983 in box-office receipts in the first day of release. A 6 Dec 1993 WSJ news item reported that the film had taken in a total of $22 million in box-office receipts after eight weeks of release, and was screening in 600 theaters at the time.
       According to a 22 Oct 1993 DV item, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. was awarded the Film Information Council’s “Excellence in Film Marketing Award” for Sep 1993, marking the first time the studio had received the award established thirteen months prior and given out on a monthly basis.
       Though a 17 Aug 1993 DV news brief announced that the world premiere would take place at the Toronto Festival of Festivals, the film’s theatrical release preceded the festival’s 9 Sep 1993 opening by one day.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Feb 1993.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jun 1993.
---
Daily Variety
17 Aug 1993
p. 1, 70.
Daily Variety
22 Oct 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 1993
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Jun 1993
p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
5 Sep 1993
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
7 Sep 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Sep 1993
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
8 Sep 1993
p. 3.
New York Times
5 Sep 1993
Section A, p. 7.
New York Times
5 Sep 1993
Section A, p. 14.
New York Times
8 Sep 1993
Section C, p. 15.
Screen International
1 Feb 1991.
---
Variety
5 Oct 1992.
---
Variety
13 Sep 1993
p. 32.
WSJ
6 Dec 1993.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Oliver Stone Production
In Association with Ronald Bass, Amy Tan, Wayne Wang
A Film By Wayne Wang
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Unit prod mgr, China crew
Prod mgr, China crew
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, China crew
1st asst dir, China crew
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod, China crew
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam asst, China crew
Cam asst, China crew
B cam op
Cam trainee
Video playback op
Gaffer, China crew
Best boy elec
Best boy elec, China crew
Key grip
Key grip, China crew
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Rigging gaffer
Rigging grip
Still photog
Arriflex® cameras by
Prod and distributed on
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir, China crew
Art dir, China crew
Asst art dir, China crew
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Props, China crew
Props, China crew
Props, China crew
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman, China crew
Scenic artist
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des, China crew
Cost supv
Ward supv, China crew
Cost, China crew
Cost, China crew
Cost, China crew
MUSIC
Asst mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Orchestra cond by
Incidental mus rec by
Orch contractor
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd des
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
ADR supv
ADR ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley mixer
Post prod sd services provided by
Mixed and rec in a
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff, China crew
Spec eff asst, China crew
Main & end titles des and prod by
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist, China crew
Asst makeup artist
Makeup asst, China crew
Hairstylist
Asst hairstylist
Hairdresser, China crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting, In association with
San Francisco casting
Spec casting consultant
New York casting assoc
Los Angeles casting assoc
Casting asst
Casting asst
Extras casting
Casting, China crew
Prod supv
Scr supv
Post prod supv
Prod coord
Prod coord, China crew
Asst prod coord
Asst to Mr. Markey
Asst to Mr. Wang
Chinese asst to Mr. Wang
Asst to Mrs. Liu, China crew
Asst to Mr. Xu, China crew
Loc mgr
SFS loc mgr, China crew
Key prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst, China crew
Prod asst, China crew
Prod asst, China crew
Prod asst, China crew
Prod asst, China crew
Prod asst, China crew
Prod asst, China crew
Prod asst, China crew
Prod asst, China crew
Prod asst, China crew
Prod asst, China crew
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Studio teacher
Addl studio teacher
Chinese scr translator
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
Accounting translator, China crew
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Caterer
Craft services
Animal handlers
Cultural consultant
Cultural consultant
Chinese culinary consultant
Tech adv, China crew
Hong Kong consultant, China crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (New York, 1989).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Humoresque," composed by Antonin Dvorak
"Flute and Harp Concerto in C, K.299 (Andantino)," composed by Wolfgang A. Mozart.
SONGS
"I Enjoy Being a Girl," written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, courtesy of Williamson Music
"The Monkees' Theme," written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, used by permission of Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc., performed by The Monkees, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"One Fine Day," written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, used by permission of Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc., performed by The Chiffons, under license from Cema Special Markets
+
SONGS
"I Enjoy Being a Girl," written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, courtesy of Williamson Music
"The Monkees' Theme," written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, used by permission of Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc., performed by The Monkees, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"One Fine Day," written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, used by permission of Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc., performed by The Chiffons, under license from Cema Special Markets
"Ye Lai Xiang (Scent of the Night)," written by Lee Lai Kwang and James Wong, used by permission of EMI Music Publishing Ltd. (S.E. Asia)
"He Ri Jun Zai Lai (When Will You Come Again?)," written by Yao Ming, used by permission of EMI Music Publishing Ltd. (S.E. Asia)
"Gamethon," written and performed by Michael A. Lang, courtesy of Michael A. Lang Enterprises, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 8 September 1993
New York opening: week of 8 September 1993
Production Date:
9 November 1992--late February 1993 in San Francisco, CA, and China
Copyright Claimant:
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 October 1993
Copyright Number:
PA644593
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Color by Monaco Film Lab
Prints
Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
139
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Languages:
Cantonese, Mandarin, English
PCA No:
32643
SYNOPSIS

In San Francisco, California, a young writer named June has recently lost her mother Suyuan and will soon leave for China to meet her long lost half-sisters. Suyuan’s close friends, Lindo, Ying Ying and An Mei, and their daughters, Waverly, Lena and Rose, gather at a farewell party for her, and the older women invite June into the dining room to take her mother’s place in their mahjong group, the Joy Luck Club. June notices a piano in the corner of the room, sparking a childhood memory. As a nine-year-old, June is not interested in the piano, despite Suyuan’s encouragement. At June’s first recital, her mother watches expectantly with Lindo and Lindo’s daughter Waverly. Each mother brags about her daughter’s talents, but when June begins to play poorly, Suyuan frowns in disappointment. Afterward, June refuses to practice and argues with her mother, saying she wishes she were dead like the children her mother left behind in China. Sometime in the past, a young Suyuan flees to Chongqing during World War II, pushing her two babies in a cart until she reaches exhaustion. Back in San Francisco, shortly after Suyuan’s death, June learns that her mother’s friends have located Suyuan’s abandoned daughters, who are twins, and have arranged for June to meet them in China. As she gives June the news, Lindo remembers her own mother, who arranged Lindo’s marriage when she was only four. At age fourteen, Lindo was married to Tyan Yu and forced to live with his family, including his cruel mother, Huang Tai Tai. Though Tyan Yu is even younger than Lindo, Mrs. Huang is eager for a grandchild and blames Lindo for not getting ... +


In San Francisco, California, a young writer named June has recently lost her mother Suyuan and will soon leave for China to meet her long lost half-sisters. Suyuan’s close friends, Lindo, Ying Ying and An Mei, and their daughters, Waverly, Lena and Rose, gather at a farewell party for her, and the older women invite June into the dining room to take her mother’s place in their mahjong group, the Joy Luck Club. June notices a piano in the corner of the room, sparking a childhood memory. As a nine-year-old, June is not interested in the piano, despite Suyuan’s encouragement. At June’s first recital, her mother watches expectantly with Lindo and Lindo’s daughter Waverly. Each mother brags about her daughter’s talents, but when June begins to play poorly, Suyuan frowns in disappointment. Afterward, June refuses to practice and argues with her mother, saying she wishes she were dead like the children her mother left behind in China. Sometime in the past, a young Suyuan flees to Chongqing during World War II, pushing her two babies in a cart until she reaches exhaustion. Back in San Francisco, shortly after Suyuan’s death, June learns that her mother’s friends have located Suyuan’s abandoned daughters, who are twins, and have arranged for June to meet them in China. As she gives June the news, Lindo remembers her own mother, who arranged Lindo’s marriage when she was only four. At age fourteen, Lindo was married to Tyan Yu and forced to live with his family, including his cruel mother, Huang Tai Tai. Though Tyan Yu is even younger than Lindo, Mrs. Huang is eager for a grandchild and blames Lindo for not getting pregnant immediately. After being repeatedly mistreated by her mother-in-law, Lindo escapes the arranged marriage. In the present, Waverly recalls her own childhood as she and Lindo visit a salon in preparation for Waverly’s second marriage. Sometime in the past, Lindo embarrasses young Waverly as she boasts to everyone in the neighborhood that her daughter is a chess prodigy, prompting Waverly to run away. When she returns home hours later, Waverly announces that she will no longer play chess. Lindo reacts coolly, causing Waverly to lose confidence when she finally resumes the game. Continuing to seek her mother’s approval as an adult, Waverly first marries an Asian American, but after the marriage fails, she begins dating Rich, who is white. At his first dinner with Waverly’s parents, Rich makes several cultural gaffes, and Lindo disapproves of him. Back at the hair salon before Waverly’s wedding to Rich, she and her mother reconcile their differences as Waverly tells Lindo that she only wishes to please her and has never been ashamed of her. Sometime after, at June’s farewell party, Rich still cannot use chopsticks but has been accepted by Waverly’s family nonetheless. Meanwhile, Ying Ying and An Mei discuss Suyuan, and Ying Ying reflects on her own unhappy past. At sixteen years of age, Ying Ying falls in love with a charismatic man, Lin Xiao, and they marry. Lin becomes abusive after the birth of their son and has public affairs with other women. After Lin strikes Ying Ying in front of one of his mistresses, Ying Ying allows their baby to drown in revenge. Years later, after immigrating to San Francisco, Ying Ying suffers from depression and blames herself for her daughter Lena’s lack of spirit. Lena meets and marries Harold, a stingy man who insists on splitting the check on their first date and continues to demand that all expenses are split after marriage. When Ying Ying visits her daughter’s new house, she advises Lena to reevaluate the marriage. At June’s farewell party, Lena has taken her mother’s advice and found a new, more loving partner. As the night goes on, June puts Rose’s daughter, Jennifer, to bed, telling a story Suyuan used to tell about a mother who moves to America with big dreams for her daughter symbolized by a goose feather. An Mei, Rose’s mother and Jennifer’s grandmother, recalls the time her father died and her mother became a concubine to a rich man named Wu Tsing, leaving An Mei to grow up in her grandparents’ home. Back in China, young An Mei watches her mother pay her last respects to An Mei’s dying grandmother and decides to leave with her mother when she returns to Wu Tsing’s house. Again in the present, An Mei worries about her daughter Rose’s marriage to Ted, who comes from a wealthy, upper class family. Rose remembers falling in love with Ted at college, and later meeting his parents who disapprove of her Chinese ethnicity. After Ted fiercely defends Rose, she agrees to marry him and later demonstrates her love by sacrificing professional opportunities to support Ted’s career. Frustrated by Rose’s increasingly passive behavior, Ted becomes unfaithful and the couple decides to divorce. An Mei has a heartfelt discussion with Rose, recounting her own mother’s story to convince Rose to assert herself. Many years ago in China, after moving to her mother’s new home with Wu Tsing, An Mei discovers that, years ago, Wu Tsing’s second wife intially brought An Mei to meet him so that he could rape and impregnate her. An Mei’s grandparents rejected her mother after she became pregnant, which forced her to return to the home of her attacker. Even worse, the second wife claimed the resulting son as her own. An Mei’s mother commits suicide, and at her funeral, An Mei demands better treatment from her stepfamily. In the present-day, the story helps Rose regain confidence and repair her marriage with Ted. At the farewell party, June recalls the last Chinese New Year’s Celebration, when old wounds reopen because June feels inferior to Waverly, who has fired her from a freelance writing project. After Suyuan praises Waverly’s good style, she reassures June in another room that she prefers June’s compassion for others over Waverly’s “style.” As the farewell party ends, June thanks Lindo, Ying Ying, and An Mei for being like second mothers. After the others have gone, Lindo reveals to June that her half-sisters in China do not know their mother is dead and are expecting Suyuan, not June, to meet them. Later, June’s father gives her keepsakes for her sisters, retelling Suyuan’s history and explaining that Suyuan left her babies in China because she was very sick and believed she would die, and thought no one would take her babies and care for them if they were found by her dead body. June’s father gives her a goose feather that Suyuan brought from China, and June realizes that the story her mother told about the feather was true. In Shanghai, June meets her half-sisters and informs them that Suyuan is dead, and the estranged siblings enjoy a tearful reunion. +

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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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