Jon M. Chu Responds to 'Crazy Rich Asians' Sequel's Pay-Gap Controversy

Responding to the news of co-writer Adele Lim's exit from the franchise over pay disparity, the director tweeted about the Hollywood negotiations process.

Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu has weighed in on screenwriter Adele Lim's exit from the franchise over pay disparity with co-writer Peter Chiarelli.

In a tweeted paragraph on Monday, Chu wrote that he "stand[s] with Adele" but that "negotiations are tough." When he learned that Lim wasn't pleased with her initial offer to co-pen the sequel, Chu wrote that he, Color Force producers Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson and Warner Bros. executives attempted to get "to a place of parity between the two writers at a significant number." The director claims that after he and that team came up with a number of different solutions, including Chiarelli's offer to share some of his fee, a significant amount of time had passed and Lim declined to participate.

"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," Chu said, adding that he has his own personal experience with feeling the same way.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the story last week that Lim had exited the project due to a pay gap between herself and Chiarelli. Although Lim declined to reveal any figures, sources told THR that Chiarelli was initially offered $800,000 to $1 million and Lim $110,000-plus. The studio told Lim's representatives, the story reported, that the figures were based on industry standards and each writer's past experience. Studio chairman Toby Emmerich supported the position of his business department in negotiations.

When it was released in August 2018, Crazy Rich Asians netted $174.5 million domestically and $238.5 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing studio romantic comedy in nine years. 

In his tweet, Chu enjoined readers not to criticize Chiarelli. "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," the helmer wrote. "He is a good man, a creative force and has been a pro in the business for many many years, doing many un-credited rewrites." Chu went on to argue that neither Chiarelli, nor Lim, nor he himself had "authored" the film, but that Crazy Rich Asians was the result of the production's many respective teams.

"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 experience vs. life experience, creative contribution valuations, etc.), which I am sure won't be simple answers but I know we must try to figure out to keep the needle moving," continued Chu, echoing the questions raised in a THR analysis about the issue. "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."

Chu ended the post by keeping the door open to renegotiating with Lim, who is currently writing Disney's upcoming animated feature Raya and the Last Dragon, a fantasy with a Thanksgiving 2020 release date. "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," he said.

Gemma Chan, who played Astrid in Crazy Rich Asians, retweeted Chu's statement and added her own support. "I too stand with Adele Lim and fully support her, as I do every person fighting for pay equity," she wrote Monday afternoon. "Pay disparity disproportionately affects women and POC and there is still a long way to go -- both in the conversation and how to rectify it. We can and must do better, faster."

For her part, Lim broke her silence a day earlier. "It's been a week," she tweeted Sunday morning. "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 Jon M. Chu and the cast of CRA. It was/is a movement and I'll always root for its continued success."

Read Chu's entire post below.