Jonathan Murray Chu (born November 2, 1979)[1] is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is best known as the director of 2018's Crazy Rich Asians, the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority cast of Asian descent in a modern setting since The Joy Luck Club in 1993.[2]

Jon M. Chu
Chu in March 2013
Jonathan Murray Chu

(1979-11-02) November 2, 1979 (age 44)
Alma materUniversity of Southern California (BFA)
  • Film director
  • film producer
  • screenwriter
Years active2001–present
Kristin Hodge
(m. 2018)

The films that he has directed often include musical elements, including the dance films Step Up 2: The Streets (2008) and Step Up 3D (2010), musicals Jem and the Holograms (2015) and In the Heights (2021), and the live concert films Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (2011) and Justin Bieber's Believe (2013). Chu is an alumnus of the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Early life edit

Chu was born in Palo Alto, California and grew up in nearby Los Altos. He attended Pinewood School from kindergarten through 12th grade.[3] Chu is the youngest of five children.[4] He began making movies in fifth grade, when his mother gifted him a video camera to document their family vacations. Chu instead began making home movies starring his siblings.[5]

His mother, Ruth Chu, was born in Taiwan; his father, Lawrence Chu, was born in Sichuan.[6][7][8] His family owns the restaurant Chef Chu's.[9]

Chu obtained a BFA in Film & Television Production from University of Southern California in 2003,[4] where he was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He won the Princess Grace Award, the Kodak Student Filmmaker Award,[10] the Dore Schary Award presented by the Anti-Defamation League, the Jack Nicholson directing award, and was recognized as an honoree for the IFP/West program Project: Involve.[citation needed]

Career edit

After making his student short, When the Kids Are Away, Chu was signed to William Morris Agency and attached to several high-profile projects. Chu was hired by Sony Pictures to direct their feature Bye Bye Birdie, but Sony never green lit the film due to budget concerns. Sony re-hired Chu to direct their updated version of The Great Gatsby,[11] which did not pan out as the project was purchased by Warner Bros. Pictures for their 2013 film.

He is in a dance crew called AC/DC or Adam/Chu Dance crew. In an interview, Chu addressed a question he is often asked, "Why do all of your films have dance?" He responded, "I don't know why. It seems so obvious. But there's something about the dancers that motivate me the most. I don't know if it's just dance, but I do think that the dancers are amazing artists, and every time I meet a new dancer, that triggers something in my brain, and I'm more creative than I could ever be. When I feel that creativity burst, I go with it."[12]

In 2013, Chu was awarded the Visionary Award by East West Players (EWP), the longest-running theater of color in the United States, for his contributions to the Asian Pacific American (APA) community. In an online Q&A, Chu revealed that he had attended EWP's productions as a child and was excited "to push boundaries with them in the future."[13]

In 2013, Chu directed a pre-flight safety video for Virgin America. The video was structured like a musical number that incorporated multiple styles and high-energy dance.[14] The video was played before flights through 2018, when Virgin America was folded into Alaska Airlines.

Chu directed Crazy Rich Asians, which was the highest-grossing film over the August 17, 2018 weekend, earned over $35M at the US box office during its first five days,[15] and received a 93% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Within a week of the film's release, Variety reported that a sequel was already in development by Warner Bros. with Chu scheduled to direct.[16] Director Chu is part of Rachel Chu's family in the book, as a distant cousin.[17]

Chu directed In the Heights, based on the Broadway musical of the same name for Warner Bros. Pictures. It was previously set for a June 26, 2020 release, though it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film was released on June 10, 2021.[18][19][20][21]

In October 2020, it was announced that Chu would be directing the pilot for the Disney+ series Willow, based on the film of the same name, with Warwick Davis returning as the title character.[22][23] The following month, Chu entered talks with Disney to direct a live-action adaptation of Lilo & Stitch,[24] which he ultimately passed on due to other obligations.

In January 2021, Chu left directorial duties on Willow due to production delays and personal reasons with the birth of his next child.[25] The following month, it was announced that Chu would direct the two-part film adaptation of Wicked for Universal Pictures, with both parts set for November 2024 and 2025 releases.[26][27]

Upcoming projects edit

Chu will direct an adaptation of Dr. Seuss's Oh, The Places You'll Go!, produced by the Warner Animation Group alongside Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Bad Robot Productions.[28]

In March 2022, it was announced that Chu would be producing (and possibly directing) an animated film based on the children’s modeling compound Play-Doh. It will be produced by Entertainment One and Hasbro.[29][30]

In April 2023, it was revealed that Chu will direct and co-produce a feature film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a passion project he had been hoping to make for some time, for Amazon MGM Studios and the Really Useful Group. It will be produced by Scott Sanders and Mara Jacobs, reuniting with Chu after working with him on In the Heights.[31]

Personal life edit

Chu is married to Kristin Hodge. Their daughter, Willow Chu, was born in 2017; she is named after the 1988 fantasy film Willow.[32] Their son, Jonathan Heights Chu, was born in 2019. His middle name comes from the film, In the Heights, which Chu was in the middle of directing at the time.[33]

Filmography edit

Films edit

Year Title Director Producer
2008 Step Up 2: The Streets Yes No
2010 Step Up 3D Yes No
2013 G.I. Joe: Retaliation Yes No
2015 Jem and the Holograms Yes Yes
2016 Now You See Me 2 Yes No
2018 Crazy Rich Asians Yes No
2021 In the Heights Yes No
2024 Wicked Yes No
2025 Wicked Part Two Yes No


  • Dance Camp (2016)
  • Step Up: Year of the Dance (2019)

Executive producer

Short films edit

Year Title Director Executive
Writer Notes
2001 Silent Beats Yes Yes Yes Also sound and production designer
2002 When the Kids Are Away Yes Yes Yes
Gwai Lo: The Little Foreigner Yes Yes Yes

Documentary films edit

Television edit

Year Title Director Executive
Writer Notes
2010–2011 The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers Yes Yes Yes Creator;
Also editor
2019 Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho Yes Yes No TV special
2019–present Good Trouble Yes Yes No Pilot
2020–present Home Before Dark Yes Yes No
2022 Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration No Yes No TV special
2023 The Company You Keep No Yes No

References edit

  1. ^ Chu, Jon M. [@jonmchu] (November 2, 2014). "Please dont wish me a happy 35th birthday today! Just help me reach my goal by..." (Tweet). Archived from the original on April 23, 2020. Retrieved 2020-04-22 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ Ho, Karen K. (August 15, 2018). "'Crazy Rich Asians' Is Going to Change Hollywood. It's About Time". Time. Retrieved 2020-05-05.
  3. ^ "Pinewood Alum Jon Chu Debuts in Movie Theaters Everywhere". Pinewood School. Archived from the original on November 21, 2015. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "USC Alumni Association | Jon M. Chu '03". Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  5. ^ "USC Alumni Association | Jon M. Chu '03". Retrieved 2021-09-23.
  6. ^ Yamato, Jen (August 10, 2018). "'Crazy Rich Asians': Director Jon M. Chu hopes to inspire other storytellers, open Hollywood's doors". Los Angeles Times. My mom's from Taiwan. My dad's from mainland China. They came over when they were 19, 20 years old.
  7. ^ Yang, Jeff (September 10, 2018). "The legendary Silicon Valley restaurant behind Crazy Rich Asians". Inkstone News. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Lawrence Chu and Chef Chu's – Los Altos, CA". Great Chefs.
  9. ^ "'Crazy Rich Asians' director grew up around dad's world-famous Bay Area Chinese restaurant". 3 August 2018.
  10. ^ "'The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers' Creator Jon M. Chu to Receive Pioneer Prize at International Digital Emmy® Awards at MIPTV 2011". 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2021-09-23.
  11. ^ Halbfinger, David (February 18, 2008). "Director's Reward: A Second First Chance". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
  12. ^ Close, Jordan (2010-09-15). "Filmmaker "Born from a Boombox": An interview with Jon M. Chu". Asia Pacific Arts. Archived from the original on 2021-12-03. Retrieved 2021-09-22.
  13. ^ "Jon M. Chu | East West Players tells all". Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  14. ^ Graser, Marc (29 October 2013). "Virgin America Turns Pre-Flight Safety Videos into Entertainment". Variety. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  15. ^ McClintock, Pamela (19 August 2018). "Weekend Box Office: 'Crazy Rich Asians' Wins With $26.5M for $35M Five-Day Launch". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  16. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (2018-08-22). "'Crazy Rich Asians' Sequel in Works With Jon M. Chu to Direct". Variety. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  17. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (15 August 2018). "How the director of 'Crazy Rich Asians' found redemption after a string of uninspiring studio movies". Business Insider.
  18. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 21, 2020). "'In The Heights' Dances Into Summer 2021". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  19. ^ McNary, Dave (June 7, 2018). "Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'In the Heights' Sets Summer 2020 Release". Variety. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  20. ^ Galuppo, Mia (May 17, 2018). "Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'In the Heights' Lands at Warner Bros". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  21. ^ Galuppo, Mia (March 24, 2020). "Warner Bros. Delays Release of 'In the Heights,' 'Scoob!' Due to Coronavirus". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  22. ^ "Jon M Chu To Direct Lucasfilm's Willow Series for Disney". Lucasfilm. October 20, 2020. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  23. ^ Thorne, Will (2020-10-20). "'Willow' Sequel Series Officially a Go at Disney Plus, Jon M. Chu to Direct". Variety. Retrieved 2020-10-20.
  24. ^ Kit, Borys (November 13, 2020). Jon M. Chu in Talks to Direct Live-Action 'Lilo & Stitch' Movie (Exclusive). Retrieved November 13, 2020. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  25. ^ Ridgely, Charlie. "Jon M. Chu Steps Away From Directing Disney's Willow". Retrieved 2021-01-11.
  26. ^ Galuppo, Mia (February 2, 2021). "Jon M. Chu Set to Direct 'Wicked' Musical". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  27. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 26, 2022). "Universal Releasing 'Wicked' Musical In Two Parts". Deadline. Retrieved April 26, 2022.
  28. ^ "Jon M. Chu Tapped To Direct Adaptation of Dr. Seuss' 'Oh, The Places You'll Go!' For Warner Bros Animation Group And Dr. Seuss Enterprises; Bad Robot Producing". Deadline. 2021-11-11. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  29. ^ Jackson, Angelique (2022-03-17). "Play-Doh Animated Movie in the Works from Emily V. Gordon and Jon M. Chu". Variety. Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  30. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2022-03-17). "'Play-Doh': Emily V. Gordon To Write, Jon M. Chu Circling To Direct Animated Pic For eOne & Hasbro About Colorful Clay". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  31. ^ "'Wicked' Filmmaker Jon M. Chu to Direct Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' for Amazon Studios". 12 April 2023.
  32. ^ Barsanti, Sam (October 20, 2020). "Disney+ orders Willow sequel series from Jon M. Chu, with Warwick Davis returning". Yahoo Sports. The AV Club. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  33. ^ D'Zurilla, Christie (January 6, 2020). "'Crazy Rich Asians' director has the sweetest reaction to Awkwafina's Globes win". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2020.

External links edit