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Crazy Rich Asians 2: Why The Sequel Is Taking So Long

Here’s why the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians is taking so long to come to fruition. The 2018 romantic comedy, currently available for streaming on HBO Max, was written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim (based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel of the same name) and directed by Jon M. Chu surpassed its $30 million budget during its opening weekend. The film, which grossed $238 million worldwide, was the first Hollywood movie to feature an Asian cast, writer, and director since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club. Crazy Rich Asians received two Golden Globe nominations and a nod from the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. According to Deadline, a sequel was in development at Warner Bros. in August 2018, so what is the delay?

In the immediate aftermath of the film’s success, all the key players were on board to return, including Chu, Chiarelli, Lim, Constance Wu (Rachel Chu), Henry Golding (Nick Young), and Michelle Yeoh (Eleanor Young). Producers Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, and John Penotti held the rights to the other two books in Kwan’s trilogy, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. Simpson told Deadline, “Making a sequel won’t be a cynical play,” because Kwan “always had a roadmap” with the books. In March 2019, while promoting Captain Marvel, Gemma Chan, who played Nick’s fashionista cousin Astrid Leong Teo in Crazy Rich Asians, told Variety she heard filming on the second and third films of the trilogy would begin filming back-to-back in 2020. However that never eventuated for a number of reasons – filming on the sequels to Crazy Rich Asians has not begun, and production has stalled, with no news of even progress on a script or production setup.

Plans for the sequel began to unravel in Fall 2018. According to THR, Lim exited the sequel due to a pay disparity between herself and her co-writer Chiarelli. Lim was reportedly offered around $110,000 compared to Chiarelli’s far more lucrative $800,000 to $1 million deal. Warner Bros. told Lim’s reps that the offer was industry standard based on experience (Crazy Rich Asians was Lim’s first feature writing credit). After producers reportedly spent five months trying to replace Lim in February 2019, they approached her with a higher number. Chiarelli, whose big break was penning the screenplay for 2009’s The Proposal, had offered to split his fee with Lim to bridge the gap, but Lim declined, telling THR“Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn’t be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer.” Understandably, Lim felt she had proved herself to be a valuable commodity after the commercial and critical success of Crazy Rich Asians.

The sequel to Crazy Rich Asians has creative obstacles to overcome as well. In September 2020, Golding told Digital Spy that he had recently spoken to Chu, and the sequel’s script was still unfinished. “It’s a very complicated process because, visually, sometimes a novel doesn’t make as much sense as it would on the screen in a direct adaptation. So you have to really change it up to make it interesting,” Golding said. Crazy Rich Asians 2 story will likely focus on Rachel’s relationship with her birth father and half-brother, but storylines for fan favorites like Awkwafina’s Peik Lin Goh, who doesn’t factor heavily in the follow-ups, would deviate greatly from the source material. The process for writing the script is likely much more involved than it was for the original, or for other new properties, as the screenwriters will need to both draw narrative threads from the original and China Rich Girlfriend, as well as inventing new storylines for the characters, like Peik Lin, who were created or had an increased role for the first movie. Not to do so risks alienating fans of the franchise.

The talented cast has become more in demand and, although they’re under option, they continue to work on other projects. Wu is set to star opposite Chris Pratt in the Amazon series The Terminal List and will appear in a movie based on the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile book. Yeoh has been busy filming the remaining four films that comprise James Cameron’s Avatar opus, while also appearing in Star Trek: Discovery and a few MCU productions, and will also voice a character in the upcoming Minions movie sequel. Awkwafina played the dragon Sisu in Disney’s recent Raya and the Last Dragon, made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Ringsand she’s starring in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, which is currently in production. Golding will be the lead voiceover in Paramount Animation’s The Tiger’s Apprentice, based on Lawrence Yep’s 2003 novel, slated for release next year. Gemma Chan also appeared in Raya and the Last Dragon as Namaari, and will also play Sersi in Marvel’s Eternals later in 2021.

However comments by Henry Golding indicate that it might not be that the cast is too busy to fir Crazy Rich Asians 2 into their schedule. In an interview with Insider, Golding acknowledged that the cast was certainly busy with a variety of projects, but suggested that it was actually Jon M Chu had no time in his schedule for the sequel. And Chu has indeed been a busy director, with huge musical adaptation In The Heights releasing in June 2021, and he’s also worked as a producer on TV shows Home Before Dark and Good Trouble, also directing a couple of episodes himself. His next major project is also a big one – the adaptation of the blockbuster musical Wicked. That movie is filming in the second half of 2021, so there’s potential for Chu to come back to the Crazy Rich Asians sequel after that movie has released.  With no script and all the principal players’ schedules only growing more jam-packed, fans will be waiting a while for the Crazy Rich Asians sequel.

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