Close to a week after the news broke about Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter Adele Lim leaving the sequels due to a huge pay disparity between her and co-writer Peter Chiarelli, director Jon M. Chu responded to the situation Monday championing Lim on Twitter, and explaining the challenging intricacies of deal-making.
THR, which broke the story last week, reported that starting offers were $800,000- $1 million for Chiarelli and $110K-plus for Lim, the business argument being that he was a seasoned feature scribe, and Lim largely a TV writer (Crazy Rich Asians was her first feature film). The sequels to the $238.5 million-grossing hit last summer — China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems, both also based on Kevin Kwan’s books — are expected to shoot back-to-back.
Chu responded with a lengthy statement tonight on how he stands with Lim, and that he’s 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. I have experienced this several times in my years of making movies trying to keep a creative team together on budgets big and small.” In his response, Chu describes the various facets of the negotiation.
Chu explains that when he heard Lim was unhappy with the initial offer, he got together with the producers and Warner execs “to ensure we got to a place of parity between the two writers at a significant number.”
“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,” says Chu.
“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. 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,” said Chu, who is next directing the movie adaptation of the Tony-winning musical In the Heights for Warner Bros.
In regards to Chiarelli, Chu asked that “as a community, we should not go after” him. The filmmaker explained how Chiarelli was on the project months before he boarded with two drafts under his belt, and returned before shooting. Chu goes on to explain how no one writer, or himself, is the author of the film, rather the entire filmmaking team is responsible for building Crazy Rich Asians.
Chu wraps by saying that “the door is always open for Adele.’
Here’s Chu’s full statement: