Jon M. Chu Breaks His Silence on 'Crazy Rich Asians' Co-Writer Adele Lim Leaving Sequels Over Pay Disparity

Jon M. Chu
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Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu is opening up about the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the film's hotly anticipated sequel.

Last week, screenwriter Adele Lim made headlines when she decided to opt out of working on the new project due to a pay dispute regarding a major disparity between herself and the film's other credited co-writer, Peter Chiarelli, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"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," Chu wrote in a lengthy statement he shared to Twitter on Monday. "As many of you can imagine, negotiations are tough and more often than not messy — no matter who you are in this industry."

A source told The Hollywood Reporter that Warner Bros.' starting offers for Chiarelli was between $800,000 and $1 million, while Lim was initially offered $110,000. 

Regarding negotiations on the sequel, Chu explained, "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."

"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," Chu added. "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 made it very clear that he had no hard feelings toward Lim for leaving the project, and looks forward to collaborating on something in the future.

"I will work with Adele in the future and respect the hell out of her," he shared. "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," he added. "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 also stressed that the dispute and disparity should not be blamed on Chiarelli either.

"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," Chu shared. "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."

Despite walking away from the project, it seems Chu is still amenable to the possibility of Lim signing back on to the sequel at some point if the situation works out that way.

"The door is always open for Adele and if there’s another shot at making it work I know we are all for it," he explained. "But that’s a personal and private conversation between ourselves."

On Sunday, Lim took to Twitter to thank her fans for their support over her decision to walk away from the project, and stressed that she has no animosity towards Chu over the pay disparity or her subsequent departure.

"It’s been a week. My gratitude to the countless people who voiced their support. To people going through their own fight - you are not alone," Lim tweeted. "Also, I have only love for @jonmchu and the cast & crew of #CRA. It was/is a movement and I’ll always root for its continued success."

When Crazy Rich Asians hit theaters, it rocketed past its projected earnings in its debut and went on to earn $174.5 million domestically and $238.5 million worldwide off a $30 million budget. It also went on to earn two Golden Globe nominations -- one for Best Motion Picture and the other for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for star Constance Wu.

Check out the video below for more on the planned sequels to the hit comedy.


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