Jon M. Chu 'Stands with' Crazy Rich Asians Co-Writer Who Left Sequel Due to Pay Parity Dispute
Jon M. Chu is standing by Crazy Rich Asians co-writer Adele Lim, who left the sequel after negotiations for a higher salary ended
In a lengthy statement posted to Twitter, Chu, 39, supported Lim after she turned down a job as co-writer on the sequel after failed negotiations.
“For those of you who are asking, you bet your a— I stand with Adele!” Chu wrote. “I believed in her before we ever shot the movie and believe in her beyond. As many of you can imagine, negotiations are tough and more often than not messy — no matter who you are in this industry.”
The director continued, “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. But because I am close with Adele, when I discovered she was unhappy with the initial offer, the producers, myself and studio executives leapt into action to ensure we got to a place of parity between the two writers at a significant number.”
Chu wrote Lim declined the offer of a higher salary after “a lot of time had passed,” explaining, “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.”
Despite being unable to reunite on the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, Chu said he looked forward to working with Lim “in the future and [I] respect the hell out of her.”
“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 continued. “What I discovered personally through this process is there are still things to debate amongst ourselves (like value of experience vs lack of opportunity, tv vs film writing, work experiences vs life experience, creative contribution valuations etc) which I am sure won’t be simple answers but I know we must try to figure it out to keep the needle moving.”
A rep for Lim did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Peter Chiarelli, who co-wrote the script with Lim, was reportedly offered a significantly higher amount than Lim, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Lim was then offered more money to return for the sequel, with Chiarelli allegedly offering to split his own fee with her, but she turned it down, THR reported.
Chu also defended Chiarelli in his statement, writing, “What I do know is we, as a community, should not go after my friend Pete Chiarelli in our movie. He wrote two drafts of the script months before I ever joined the project with Adele, and came back to work on the movie right before we started shooting.”
“He is a good man, a creative force and has been a pro in the business for many many years, doing many uncredited re-writes (as those in the industry know go to only the most trusted writers),” Chu continued.
He added, “That said, the door is always open for Adele and if there’s another shot at making it work I know we are all for it but that’s a personal and private conversation between ourselves. In the meantime, thank you for being loud, thank you for caring and your support. More to do. More to say. More to learn.”
Crazy Rich Asians earned $238 million at the worldwide box office, with a total domestic gross of $174 million.
Lim spoke to THR about the pay discrepancy in an interview last week, saying, “Being evaluated that way can’t help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions.”
“Peter 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 films, which women of color would never have been [hired for].”
Based on Kevin Kwan’s novels, the next book in the series is China Rich Girlfriend and ends with Rich People Problems. The sequel is currently in the works with Chiarelli writing and Chu set to direct.
While Lim has stepped away from signing on to co-write the sequels, she has signed on to write the upcoming Disney film Raya and the Last Dragon. The story follows a warrior named Raya in a re-imagined Earth, who sets off to find the last dragon and stars Awkwafina.