If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard any news in terms of the long-awaited sequel to 2018’s highly profitable Crazy Rich Asians, the answer is that the always planned feature has been missing a screenwriter for about three years at this point. After losing original co-writer Adele Lim following a public disagreement with Warner Bros. about pay parity, the film seems to have languished in development hell during the COVID-19 pandemic, but things are now finally moving forward again. Today, Deadline reported that the film has finally found a new writer, Chinese-Australian Amy Wang. She replaces both Lim and the original film’s co-writer, Peter Chiarelli, taking on sole writing duties for the sequel, which continues to explore the adventures of a mega-rich Singaporean family. Most of the original film’s cast, such as Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan and others would likely be expected to return. A third feature is also apparently in the works, adapting author Kevin Kwan’s third novel in the series.
The root of the sequel’s screenwriter problems goes back to the first film’s massive 2018 success and its 2019 plans for a quick sequel. That year, screenwriter Adele Lim walked away from the two planned sequels after revealing that she felt her work had been massively undervalued—Lim was reportedly offered only $110,000, compared with white male co-writer Peter Chiarelli’s closer to $1 million for the same projects. Warner Bros., meanwhile, attempted to defend the disparity by saying it had nothing to do with gender or race, arguing that Chiarelli’s greater degree of experience demanded such a huge gap in compensation. The latter, though, has only a single feature film screenwriting credit via IMDB, which was 2009’s The Proposal. Does that one feature automatically entitle him to roughly 10 times the pay of Adele Lim, who had largely worked as a TV writer? It’s not hard to see how the entire situation eventually turned into a PR blunder for the studio.
Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu likewise stood up for Lim in a statement, saying that he was proud “that she was able to stand up for her own measure of worth and walk away when she felt like she was being undervalued.” Warner Bros. subsequently made Lim other offers, but she declined and has since gone on to be a co-writer on Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, along with Qui Nguyen.
Amy Wang, meanwhile, is currently a story editor on Netflix’s Brothers Sun, and also worked on the streamer’s From Scratch. She’s also in the midst of writing and directing a horror feature Paramount Players/QC Entertainment. The studio will no doubt be hoping that her presence on the project can get the Crazy Rich Asians sequel moving back in the right direction, after such an extended downtime. Here’s hoping they remember to pay her, so this doesn’t happen again.