Hollywood cannot seem to get it right when it comes to equal pay between men and women. Adele Lim and Peter Chiarelli, the screenwriting duo extraordinaire who wrote the widely successful movie adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians, were offered two very different salaries to write the sequel to the film.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros.’ initial offer to Lim and Chiarelli to write the sequel for Crazy Rich Asians was a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The studio offered Lim a paltry $110,000 versus Chiarelli’s $800,000 to $1 million. Crazy Rich Asians claimed the No. 1 at the box office and earned a whopping $238.5 million at box offices globally.
The success of the first installment ensured the green light for the sequel. The film’s box-office revenue earnings created an opportunity for two sequels to be filmed simultaneously in 2020. Warner Bros. dropped the ball when they low-balled Lim to work on the projects. Although Chiarelli had produced hit movies and Lim’s experience was solely television experience, the two created a smash hit movie together.
Adele Lim quit the project after discovering the pay disparity. Peter Chiarelli offered to split his salary with Lim. She declined. Her concern was that producers only valued her cultural contributions to the movie and not her ability to write a fantastic screenplay.
Lim said Chiarelli had been “incredibly gracious” but insisted her pay “should not be dependent on the generosity of the white guy writer.”
“If I couldn’t get pay equity after CRA,” she continued, “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].”
The pay disparity in Hollywood isn’t a secret, especially among Asians. It is unnerving to think that Hollywood continues to perpetuate unequal pay between men and women. In this case, the pay should have been equal because of the quality of work from both Lim and Chiarelli.
A statement from Waner Bros. has yet to be released.