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Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu responds to controversy over writers' pay disparity

Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Last week, the general public learned that Crazy Rich Asians co-writer Adele Lim had dropped out of working on the film’s upcoming sequel late last year after she discovered that the other co-writer—white man Peter Chiarelli—was being paid nearly 10 times more than she was for the same job. The justification (according to The Hollywood Reporter) was apparently that the two writers were being paid within “industry-standard established ranges based on experience” and that any deviation from that would “set a troubling precedent in the business.” Lim, meanwhile, believed that she was simply being used by the studio to “sprinkle culturally specific details on a screenplay” instead of being trusted to actually do substantive work on the script, which would mean that she would never get the specific experience she would need in order to get paid what she deserved from those “industry-standard established ranges” anyway.

Now, Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu (who had personally hired Lim after the studio had enlisted Chiarelli to adapt Kevin Kwan’s original book) has weighed in on the controversy, and while he makes it clear that he stands by Lim and supports her decision to take a stand here, he also notes that “negotiations are tough” and that there are more issues at play here than just a white man getting paid more than an Asian woman. This comes from The Hollywood Reporter, which says Chu noted in a Twitter post that “there are still things to debate amongst ourselves” like the value of work experience against life experiences or even “TV vs. film writing”—a reference to the fact that Lim has an extensive TV résumé even if she has much less film work under her belt—but at the very least he’s glad that this is starting a conversation about stuff like that.

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Lim has also released a new statement of her own on Twitter, saying she has “only love” for Chu and the cast of Crazy Rich Asians.

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