Box office hit Crazy Rich Asians might have been a major success, but it is apparently not satisfying its crew as much.
A kerfuffle over salaries recently arose when Malaysia-born screenwriter Adele Lim was reportedly paid one-eighth of what her fellow co-writer was getting for the upcoming movie sequel.
The male co-writer Peter Chiarelli was allegedly offered US$800,000 to US$1 million, whereas Lim was only offered US$110,000.
As a result, Lim quit as a co-writer.
"Proud" of Lim for knowing her worth and walking away
Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu has since addressed the drama over the pay disparity in a lengthy post on Twitter on Sept. 10.
For those of you who are asking... pic.twitter.com/1SoFLrUBbF— Jon M. Chu (@jonmchu) September 9, 2019
In the post, Chu made evident his support for Lim, saying he "stood" with and "believed in her".
He stated that when he caught wind of Lim's unhappiness over the suggested salary, he and his crew immediately took action to ensure pay parity.
Chu wrote that attempts to keep his creative team intact was unsuccessful as "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".
Chu continued that he was "proud" of Lim as she was willing to "stand up for her own measure of worth and walk away when she felt like she was being undervalued".
Don't blame other writer, Chu said
Chu also said that this controversy had managed to open up meaningful conversations on "value of experience vs. lack of opportunities, tv vs. film writing" among other issues.
Additionally, he agreed with Lim that providing equal opportunities for women and people of colour was an important issue in the movie industry, and there is "still a long way to go".
Although he sided with Lim, Chu also defended Chiarelli, saying that people "should not go after [him]".
He praised Chiarelli for his creative work in the industry, stating that the man had wrote drafts of the script for Crazy Rich Asians before Chu and Lim had even joined the project.
Sources previously stated that the large pay disparity between the two writers was because Chiarelli reportedly had more experience writing box office hits, such as The Proposal, whereas Lim only had credentials for television series.
Chu ended off by saying that neither him, nor Lim or Chiarelli, were the authors of the movie.
He instead acknowledged that the film was a product of the team efforts from everyone in the crew including producers, the cast, editors, sound team, Kevin Kwan and more.
Chu stated that the door was always open for Lim and "if there's another shot at making it work I know we are all for it".
You can read Chu's full statement here:
"For those of you who are asking, you bet your ass I stand with Adele! 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 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. It was both educational and powerful to hear all facets of the debate.
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. 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. I have experienced this several times in my years of making movies trying to keep a creative team together on budgets both big and small. It's always heartbreaking and never fun. I will work with Adele in the future and respect the hell out of her. She was my sister and co-conspirator all the way through the film.
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. 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 it out to keep the needle moving.
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.) He is not the author of the film in the end, Adele isn't the author of the film in the end...and I certainly am not. We did this together along with many people from the producers, the cast, our editor, our production designer, Kevin Kwan, our sound team, our music team and many many more. It's why I love to make movies. And sometimes we all have to do what's best for our own self worth.
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. -Jon M. Chu"
Top photo from @DEADLINE / Twitter and @MAKERSwomen / Twitter