During negotiations for the sequel, Lim, who co-wrote the film with Peter Chiarelli, was initially offered a significantly smaller amount of money to work on the sequel than Chiarelli. (The Hollywood Reporter says that her initial offer was around $110,000 while Chiarelli’s was in the $800,000 to $1 million range.) She walked away.
Warner Bros. defended the stark difference in offers as an industry-standard due to each writer’s level of experience. (Crazy Rich Asians was Lim’s first film—but she worked on TV for years—while Chiarelli had worked on two previous films.) And when Warner Bros. eventually came back with an offer closer to Chiarelli’s (and Chiarelli offered to split his fee with her) after speaking to several other writers of Asian descent. Lim declined to return to the project, noting that “what I make shouldn’t be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer.”
Chu was working on In the Heights while some of the negotiations took place, but he showed that Lim had his full support, writing “you bet your ass I stand with Adele!” in a statement about pay parity and what happened.
It’s a measured statement, one that acknowledges both the concerns that Lim highlighted when she walked away from the Crazy Rich Asians sequel and what Warner Bros. brought to the table. It’s also a matter, Chu noted, of having bigger conversations on how to measure experience, especially when it comes to comparing movies and TV.
“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,” Chu wrote. “I have experienced this several times in my years of making movies trying to keep a creative team together on budgets both big and small. It’s always heartbreaking and never fun.”
For those of you who are asking… pic.twitter.com/1SoFLrUBbF
— Jon M. Chu (@jonmchu) September 9, 2019
He stressed that he wanted to work with Lim again in the future while pleading with fans not to harass Chiarelli.
“I am, of course, 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 (and the movie sequels, frankly) so who am I to get in the way of that,” Chu wrote. “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’s statement arrives several days after news that Lim wouldn’t return to write the Crazy Rich Asians sequel surfaced. But even before he posted about it on social media, Lim addressed the outcry and show of support from fans who were outraged on her behalf—and expressed her love for the cast and crew of the film.
It’s been a week. My gratitude to the countless people who voiced their support. To people going through their own fight – you are not alone. Also, I have only love for @jonmchu and the cast & crew of #CRA. It was/is a movement and I’ll always root for its continued success ❤️
— Adele Lim (@adeleBlim) September 8, 2019