DC and Warner’s 2017 film Wonder Woman was one of the biggest grossing films of the year, and the biggest grossing of all time by a female director. It received loads of praise for director Patty Jenkins, and audience appreciation figures of around 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, so you’d think it would be an absolute breeze for her to just stroll in and get whatever fee she wanted to deliver the follow up, Wonder Woman 1984.
But Jenkins revealed just a few days ago on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast that she very nearly turned her back on the job.
Multi award-winner Jenkins’ earlier works include acclaimed Aileen Wuornos biopic Monster, and television series Entourage and The Killing. When she was offered Wonder Woman 1984, and discovered that the offer came with a fee far below that of male directors in the same position for a superhero sequel, she took a stand.
“I started to walk away,” explained Jenkins. “I was gonna walk away. I even said I’d be happy to go to another studio and make a quarter as much because it’s not a sequel, on principle, no problem.
“It’s interesting as someone who never made any profit in my career up to Wonder Woman, that I was always at peace with it.” She went on, “I was like, ‘Hey, I get it.’ But now I was like ‘Listen, I never made any money in my career because you always had the leverage and I didn’t, but now the shoe is on the other foot so it’s time to turn the tables’.”
When comparing the offer with male directors in the same situation, there was a quite worrying disparity.
“It was easy to find that all of the men… [had] made an independent film and then a first [superhero] movie,” Jenkins explained. “They got paid seven times more than me for the first superhero movie. Then on the second one they got paid more than me still. It was an easy fight to say ‘This can’t be. It super can’t be. And it really can’t be on Wonder Woman…’ it was an interesting thing to do, but it was an easy thing to do in the fact I was dead serious. That I was like ‘if I can’t be victorious in this regard, then I’m letting everyone down.’ If not me, who? So it became something I became very, very passionate about.”
Let’s hope that Jenkins’ stand reminds studios that it’s time for true parity in the offers they make to comparable male and female directors.
Wonder Woman 1984 is out in cinemas and streaming on HBO from next Friday, 25th December.
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