‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Co-Writer Quits Project Over Pay Gap

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Sep 05, 2019

Crazy Rich Asians” soared to the top of the box office when it debuted in August 2018 and pulled in $35.3 million in its first five days, according to Market Watch. While the film’s gross continued to grow and its on-screen Asian representation mirrored the team behind-the-scenes, pay parity has now crept into the conversation around the project. On Wednesday (September 4), The Hollywood Reporter reported that co-writer Adele Lim left the sequel.

After learning that her co-writer Peter Chiarelli (“The Proposal”) was earning much more than she was to flip Kevin Kwan's 2013 best-selling novel into a script, Lim said she felt slighted. “Being evaluated that way can't help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions,” Lim told THR. While Lim didn’t divulge figures, sources reportedly said that Warner Bros.' offered Chiarelli $800,000 to $1 million, compared to $110,000-plus for Lim, stating that the rates were industry-standard and based on experience on film projects.

Warner Bros. later offered to raise her rate for sequels and Chiarelli volunteered to split his fee with her, but Lim declined. “Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn't be dependent on the generosity of the White guy writer,” Lim reportedly said. “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.”

Lim is keeping her pen moving, however, as she works on the November 2020 Disney animated project “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which stars “CRA” actor Awkwafina.