As soon as Jon M. Chu is done working on his adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights, he will move back to working on China Rich Girlfriend, the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians.
Unfortunately, he will have to do it without Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter Adele Lim, who has left the sequel due to the pay disparity that Warner Bros offered. According to reports, her co-writer Peter Chiarelli was offered $800,000 to $1 million, while Lim was only offered $110,000-plus. More on the report below.
THR was the first to break the news, and obtain quotes from Lim. Although an offer had been made for her to return, Lim wanted something more substantial and meaningful than that. Here’s what she told them:
“Being evaluated that way can’t help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions.”
According to the report Lim believes that women and people of color are often considered “soy sauce,” hired just to “sprinkle” some cultural details into a screenplay, and are not given the credit they deserve when they put in the work to craft a story.
While, Lim wouldn’t provide any details as to what those figures or numbers are, word is that Chiarelli was offered somewhere between $800,000 to $1 million, whereas Lim was only offered a meager $110,000-plus. Warner Bros. explained to Lim’s reps that the offers were the industry standard based on experience, and if they were to make an exception it could set a bad precedent in the movie business.
Chiarelli has experience writing in film, having already penned 2009’s The Proposal. Lim, on the other hand, only had TV writing experience and her first script for film came when Chu hired her to write Crazy Rich Asians. Additionally, producers Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson of Color Force had already enlisted Chiarelli to adapt author Kevin Kwan‘s 2013 best-selling novel Crazy Rich Asians before Chu boarded the project.
Not only that but the report says that Color Force spent a handful of months considering some other Asian writers to work on the sequel, and they even made another offer to Lim which was closer to Chiarelli’s because he offered to split his fee with her. But ultimately, Lim still passed.
From Lim’s standpoint, I could understand how she would want more than just money. There are times where I feel as if the hiring is nothing more than a token hire. This is so much more than closing the gender pay gap, it is making sure that your work is recognized and worthwhile. And she harbors no ill-will towards Chiarelli:
“Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn’t be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer. 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.”
It’s unclear what will happen now that Lim is out of the picture. She and Chiarelli delivered the first draft of a 10-page treatment for the sequels China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems to the studio in July. Not only that, but the first film deviated from source material, meaning the sequels to that film will have to work around those parameters while still honoring the books.
It’s not all bad news for Lim though. She inked a first-position contract with Disney Animation for four years. She penned Raya and the Last Dragon, an animated feature based on southeast Asian mythology.