Our Times star in contract dispute

Darren Wang in Our Times.

TAIPEI • Months after shooting to stardom in the mega Taiwanese romance Our Times, actor Darren Wang announced on Wednesday that he has unilaterally ended his contract with producer and agent Angie Chai and is a free man.

Wang, 24, made the announcement at a press conference with a lawyer, who said the star had earned just NT$1 million (S$44,000) plus over the past three years with the agent, reported United Daily News.

Released in August, Our Times has taken in more than US$81 million (S$116 million) internationally, according to the database Box Office Mojo. It is the biggest Taiwanese movie in Singapore, with $4.4 million.

The announcement on Wednesday followed a lawsuit. Wang filed against Chai's company Star Ritz on Monday.

At the press conference, Wang's lawyer Hu Yuan-lung said Chai and the actor's father had signed an agreement to terminate the contract on Dec 2, reported United Daily News.

Hu said Chai effectively released Wang from their contract with her signature on the settlement, although the agreement has not taken effect because the star disagrees with the conditions.

As part of the settlement, Wang is to pay a termination fee of NT$30 million and work on three films for Chai for 1 million yuan (S$218,000) each, said Apple Daily.

The lawyer said the settlement was unreasonable, adding that the actor should not have to pay the agent NT$30 million.

Asked if he was being ungrateful, Wang answered: "If I hadn't become popular after shooting Our Times, would my leaving be ingratitude?"

Celebrated as the mother of idol dramas in Taiwan, Chai created Meteor Garden in 2001 and made superstars of four lads known as F4.

She manages Kai Ko, star of the 2011 movie You Are The Apple Of My Eye.

At a separate press conference on Wednesday, she struck a conciliatory tone. She said she did not want the case to go to court as it would be a drag on Wang's career, reported United Daily News.

Disputing Hu's claims, she said it was Wang's father who had suggested the termination fee. Chai, who has characterised the contract dispute as a family quarrel, showed reporters WeChat messages in which Wang once said they were like mother and son.

She also denied rumours that she had questioned director Chen Yu-shan's decision to cast Wang in Our Times.

"How can it be? When Chen Yu-shan changed the male lead to him, I bought her dinner specially."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'Our Times star in contract dispute'. Print Edition | Subscribe