The director of Crazy Rich Asians has lent his support to the film’s co-writer after she walked away from two planned sequels in an equal pay dispute.
Adele Lim dropped out after saying she was to be paid far less than what another writer, Peter Chiarelli, would earn.
She told the Hollywood Reporter she felt women and people of colour were often used as “soy sauce” – added to give a project a veneer of cultural authenticity.
Lim’s concerns reignited the debate over Hollywood’s gender pay gap.
Now Jon M Chu, who directed the 2018 romantic comedy, which proved to be a huge box office success as well as being lauded for its majority Asian cast upon its release last year, has waded into the debate.
He said “you bet your ass I stand with Adele”, before shedding light on the negotiation process between studios and filmmakers, in this case Warner Bros.
He said negotiations “are tough and more often than not messy – no matter who you are in this industry”.
Chu, who will direct Crazy Rich Asians two and three, said he, producers and studio executives intervened when they discovered Lim was unhappy with her initial offer.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, she stood to make “$100,000 plus” on the two sequels, while Chiarelli was set to earn between 800,000 and one million US dollars.
In a lengthy statement on Twitter, Chu said he was “proud” that Lim was able to “stand up for her own measure of worth and walk away when she felt like she was being undervalued”.
The filmmaker said it is “heartbreaking and never fun” to lose members of a creative team for a film, adding: “I will work with Adele in the future and respect the hell out of her.”
Chu also said the door is open for Lim to return to the film.
“I agree with Adele that parity for women and people of colour is crucial to the continued enlightenment of our industry and we still have a long way to go”, he added.
Chu also urged people not to “go after” Chiarelli, describing him as a “good man” and a “creative force”.
Crazy Rich Asians was released in August 2018 and was based on the novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan.
It stars Henry Golding and Constance Wu whose relationship is threatened by meddling family members. The film also features Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Nico Santos, Lisa Lu, Ken Jeong, and Michelle Yeoh.
Crazy Rich Asians was the first major Hollywood production to feature a majority Asian cast since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club.
As well as being well received by critics, the film was also a box office success, grossing over $238 million worldwide.