'Crazy Rich Asians' director says he stands with the writer who exited the sequel over a pay disparity dispute

Crazy Rich AsiansWarner Bros.

  • In a lengthy letter on Twitter, "Crazy Rich Asians" director Jon M. Chu defended Adele Lim, the movie's cowriter who walked away from the sequel over pay disparity.
  • "I agree with Adele that parity for women and people of color is crucial to the continued enlightenment of our industry and we still have a long way to go," Chu said.
  • Lim told The Hollywood Reporter, in a report published last week, that she walked away from the "Crazy Rich Asians" sequel last year because her white, male cowriter, Peter Chiarelli, was offered far higher pay.
  • Sources familiar with the matter told THR that the studio Warner Bros. initially offered Lim "$110,000-plus" while Chiarelli was offered "$800,000 to $1 million" for the sequel, which is based on the book "China Rich Girlfriend."
  • Lim told THR that Warner Bros. returned to her in February with an offer closer to Chiarelli's after searching for a new writer, but she declined.
  • "Unfortunately by the time we came up with several different ways to satisfy everyone's needs, a lot of time had passed and she declined the offer," Chu said. "These things happen in negotiations, and I'm proud that she was able to stand up for her own measure of worth and walk away when she felt like she was being undervalued."
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"Crazy Rich Asians" director Jon M. Chu came to the defense of writer Adele Lim, who said she exited the sequel over pay disparity.

"For those of you who are asking, you bet your ass I stand with Adele!," Chu said in a lengthy letter posted on Twitter on Monday.

Chu said he was "frustrated that we all can't do the next one together but I think the conversation this has started is MUCH more important than ourselves ... I agree with Adele that parity for women and people of color is crucial to the continued enlightenment of our industry and we still have a long way to go."

Lim told The Hollywood Reporter, in a report published last week, that she walked away from the "Crazy Rich Asians" sequel last year because her white, male cowriter, Peter Chiarelli, was offered far higher pay. She didn't disclose exact numbers, but sources familiar with the matter told THR that Lim was initially offered "$110,000-plus" while Chiarelli was offered "$800,000 to $1 million" for the sequel, based on the book "China Rich Girlfriend."

Warner Bros. declined to comment to Business Insider at the time.

READ MORE: A 'Crazy Rich Asians' writer has left the sequel and says it was because her white male cowriter was offered far more money

Chu said in his letter that "the studio always comes in at a low offer and the talent always comes in at a high one then everyone enters the process knowing there'll be lots of back and forth to find where we meet."

Warner Bros. told Lim that the figures were industry standard based on experience, THR reported. Lim is an experienced television writer, but "Crazy Rich Asians" was her first film screenplay. Chiarelli had written movies before, such as "The Proposal" and "Now You See Me 2."

"Because I am close with Adele, when I discovered she was unhappy with the initial offer, the producers, myself, and the studio executive leapt into action to ensure we got to a place of parity between the two writers at a significant number," Chu said. "It was both educational and powerful to hear all facets of the debate."

He continued, "Unfortunately by the time we came up with several different ways to satisfy everyone's needs, a lot of time had passed and she declined the offer. These things happen in negotiations, and I'm proud that she was able to stand up for her own measure of worth and walk away when she felt like she was being undervalued."

Lim told THR that Warner Bros. returned to her in February with an offer closer to Chiarelli's after searching for a new writer, but she declined. Chiarelli also offered to split his pay, she said.

"If I couldn't get pay equity after ['Crazy Rich Asians'], I can't imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that the standard for how much you're worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of color would never have been [hired for]," Lim told THR. "There's no realistic way to achieve true equity that way."

"Crazy Rich Asians" was the first Hollywood movie in 25 years to feature a predominantly Asian cast. It was a hit at the box office, grossing $238 million worldwide off of a $30 million budget.

The sequel is still moving forward. Chu and Chiarelli submitted a treatment to Warner Bros. in July, according to THR.

Chu also urged people "not to go after my friend Pete Chiarelli."

"He is not the author of the film in the end, Adele isn't the author of the film in the end, and I certainly am not," Chu said. "We did this together along with many people ... It's why I love to make movies. And sometimes we all have to do what's best for our own self worth."

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