Why Crazy Rich Asians’ Sequel May Be Taking So Long

Constance Wu and Gemma Chan in Crazy Rich Asians
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

Last summer, Crazy Rich Asians became the first blockbuster rom-com in about a decade. It has since launched massive careers for its breakout Asian stars, whose various actors are set to continue in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, become an iconic G.I. Joe and voice in Disney films moving forward. Following its monumental success, there are two planned sequels in the works for Crazy Rich Asians based on the books China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems, but one major setback may be stalling the sequel's development.

Crazy Rich Asians writing team Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim were originally set to pen the scripts for the rest of the trilogy based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novels. However, new reports indicate Lim left the project last fall due to what was reportedly an unequal pay dispute. Allegedly, while Chiarelli was offered between $800,000 to $1 million, Lim’s was only extended to $110,000-plus.

Warner Bros. explained the pay disparity was industry-standard established based on the experience of the two writers. Peter Chiarelli previously wrote the $317 million-grossing The Proposal for the studio and the story for Now You See Me 2. Crazy Rich Asians was Adele Lim’s first feature film script, though she’s written for 12 different television shows dating back to 2002.

Adele Lim told THR she believes herself and other women/people of color are regularly brought on board to projects to serve as the “soy sauce” to pepper in cultural details on a screenplay instead of contributing to the meat of the story. After she walked away, the studio searched for another writer of Asian heritage to replace her for five months before approaching her again in February with an offer closer to Peter Chiarelli’s who agreed to split his pay with her.

The writer decided to stand her ground and passed agin. Now she has moved on with Walt Disney Animation, where she will be the sole writer on the studio’s upcoming film Raya and the Last Dragon coming to theaters in November 2020 and starring Crazy Rich Asians’ Awkwafina.

Adele Lim or not, it was going to be awhile before audiences would see a Crazy Rich Asians sequel. Jon M. Chu is currently working on his adaptation of In the Heights musical coming in June 2020 before returning to the rom-com franchise. In addition, he has now taken Lim’s place as writer with Peter Chiarelli on the two sequels which are in its early stages over at Warner Bros.

The cast’s newfound starpower is another reason the Crazy Rich Asians sequels could take longer to hit the big screen. Constance Wu regularly shoots Fresh Off the Boat, with maybe a summer for other projects. Awkwafina is stacked up with movie roles for the next couple years. Gemma Chan is joining the Eternals, perhaps with more time cut out for Marvel on the way and Henry Golding is getting ready to lead Snake Eyes.

Coordinating all the breakout actors together for their reunion in the sequels could push back shooting further. However, Chu doesn’t seem worried about the setbacks. In his words:

There's too much responsibility and too much precedent from the first movie that the last thing I want to do is just hit a date and release the movie. There's still too much work to do. Our focus isn't on the timeline, it's on getting the story right.

After the success of Crazy Rich Asians, the filmmakers certainly want to deliver a similar quality for the sequels! At the earliest, the ensemble cast will be back shooting by the end of 2020. Good news is Crazy Rich Asians 2 & 3 will likely have closer release dates between one another since they are being shot back-to-back.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.