‘Crazy Rich Asians’ writer abandons sequel due to pay dispute

By September 7, 2019 Adaptations, News

Crazy Rich Asians co-writer, Adele Lim, has decided to leave the movie project due to pay parity issues, one year after the movie opened.

Crazy Rich Asians reached no. 1 at the box office and has almost reached $238.5 million global gross, as well as having raised Asian representation in Hollywood.

Director Jon M. Chu had hoped to keep the creative team together, however co-writer Adele Lim no longer is involved with the project after discovering her pay packet is comparatively small in relation to her co-writer, Peter Chiarelli.

Despite Lim bringing cultural and creative expertise to the project, she has been reportedly paid a tenth of what her male co-writer had been offered. Sources say that Warner Bros.’ starting offers were $800,000 to $1 million for Chiarelli and $110,000-plus for Lim.

Warners explained to Lim’s representatives that the quotes are standard for the industry and based on experience. They also stated that making an exception would ‘set a troubling precedent in the business’.

Paying by experience, this time, seems to neglect the fact Lim- the films only Asian writer- brought an authenticity to the movie that is worth more than time previously spent on a movie set. The industry precedent seems to be ‘the longer you have spent on a movie- the more we pay you’ which doesn’t take into account raw talent, or cultural expertise.

After Lim walked away from a deal last autumn, Color Force spent about five months searching for other writers of Asian descent for the job. They finally went back to Lim with an offer closer to what they given Chiarelli, who had also generously offered to split his fee with her, but Lim refused.

“Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn’t be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer,” Lim said. “If I couldn’t get pay equity after CRA, 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]. There’s no realistic way to achieve true equity that way.”

For now, work on the sequels is slowly moving forward. Chiarelli, writing with Chu, delivered the first draft of a 10-page treatment to the studio in late July, and they’re still exploring how much of the source material — Kwan’s trilogy includes 2015’s China Rich Girlfriend and 2017’s Rich People Problems — to adapt.

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