Wonder Woman has become a global hit with both critical acclaim and large box office numbers. Much of this success has been down to one woman, director Patty Jenkins. She is the first female director to make a film with a budget over $100 million and now holds the record for the best box office debut for a female director. So far the film has grossed over $430 million worldwide.
Jenkins attributes the film’s success to the change in cinema audiences. The director told Forbes: “There was such a obsession in the industry that teenage boys are the primary target box office. That actually changed quite a while ago and the bottom fell out of that because of piracy. But the industry has had a hard time shifting to acknowledging that they need to hit a more diverse audience.”
Many females in the industry will be hoping that Wonder Woman is the first step to a big change in the film industry rather than an anomaly. The Forbes article notes that only 4% of directors in Hollywood are women and only a very small number work on the more popular action and thriller genres.
Wonder Woman is Patty Jenkins’ second feature film as a director. Her first was the highly acclaimed 2003 drama Monster starring Charlize Theron who won an Oscar for her role. The Hollywood Reporter attributes Wonder Woman’s success to the storytelling and direction of Monster. They believe that Jenkins’ deep understanding of characters, whether the story is about a serial killer or a superhero, is why audiences were able to connect with Wonder Woman.
It is a surprise then to realize how big the gap was between her two films. Despite directing several television episodes in the intervening years it is clear that cinema has missed out on a big talent. It is also fair to point out that if a male director had produced a debut film as successful as Monster the call from the studios would have come much sooner.
Wonder Woman has been seen as the first viable DC film to be in direct competition with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The other DC Universe films, Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, while performing well at the box office were not well received. In a twist of fate Jenkins was signed up to direct the second Thor film but left after creative differences over the film’s direction. Marvel’s loss has clearly been DC’s gain as Wonder Woman holds a rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 66% for Thor The Dark World.
Interest in superheroes and supernatural humans is currently the most profitable genre in cinema. This knock on effect has been felt across the media with leading gaming site Slingo launching a slot game called Zeus based on the famous Greek god who also happens to be Wonder Woman’s father in the film. With the success of Wonder Woman, fans can expect even more games and movies that are indirectly linked to her powers and heritage.
While Jenkins is not officially singed on to direct the next Wonder Woman film it is highly unlikely that Warner Brothers will want to disrupt a winning formula. Now the rest of the film industry has to follow and start putting their trust in more female directors.