Adele Lim has stepped away from writing the sequels to the 2018 hit movie Crazy Rich Asians after learning that her white co-writer earned better pay.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, sources close to the movie revealed that the other credited writer, Peter Chiarelli, stood to make $800,000 to $1 million from the two movies sequels, while Lim stood to make only “$110,000-plus.”
The idea that Lim would make, at best, an eighth of what Chiarelli would make — and maybe as little as a 10th — is pretty remarkable, considering how huge Crazy Rich Asians was. (The film made $238 million worldwide, at a time when the romantic comedy was largely considered dead at the box office.) Normally, the sequel to a hit movie would bring a big pay bump for everybody involved, which either means that 1) studio Warner Bros. thought it didn’t have to pay up, or 2) Warner Bros. did think it was offering Lim a big pay bump.
Lim’s value to Crazy Rich Asians extends beyond her writing credits. She was hired to work on the first film to add details of cultural specificity, as a writer of Asian descent. But Lim is concerned that her ability to provide a distinct cultural sensibility was viewed as her only value to the screenplay.
Addressing this, Lim had this to say to the Hollywood Reporter:
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.
Warner Bros. had yet to address this as at press time.