'Remember when Sony gambled $230 million on a Spider-Man reboot on an indie director whose previous film cost $7.5 million?'
At first glance, this tweet from The Hollywood Reporter to an article about "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins seems innocent enough.
"Warner Bros. is gambling $150M with a filmmaker whose only prior big-screen credit was an $8M indie," the tweet reads. Taken at face value, sure, that seems to make sense. Putting someone at the helm of a $150-million project is naturally a risk-filled endeavor, no matter who you're talking about. And, yeah, when that's nearly 20 times as much money as that person's ever had to work with, it's a fair question to ask.
#WonderWoman: Warner Bros. is gambling $150M with a filmmaker whose only prior big-screen credit was an $8M indie… https://t.co/KQ5kOQ44PB— Hollywood Reporter (@Hollywood Reporter) 1496247426.0
But if you look a little closer, you'll see there are three big mistakes in that sort of framing.
And of course it's worth reading the full article before you make a decision, but there's still something about the way the headline and tweet are set up that seems ... off.
1. It's worth mentioning what that "$8M indie" was. In this case, it's pretty crucial to understanding the full story.
That $8-million indie film, written and directed by Jenkins, was called "Monster." It starred Charlize Theron, it won a bunch of awards, and oh yeah, it made $60 million worldwide. That's a pretty big deal.
Luckily, there were some helpful folks on Twitter happy to offer some alternative ways The Hollywood Reporter could have framed things.
@THR "On $8 million budget. @PattyJenks got Charlize Theron an OSCAR in #Monster. Imagine what she'll do w/… https://t.co/My7jz5BEDT— Mike J. Bautista (@Mike J. Bautista) 1496274923.0
@THR Shameful spin there. You should know better. This is an Academy Award winning director and you call it a gamble. Sheesh! 👎— Bruce Aguilar 🏳️🌈 (@Bruce Aguilar 🏳️🌈) 1496265097.0
2. It reinforces a lot of super negative attitudes and stereotypes about women in Hollywood and, well, pretty much everywhere.
In a recent interview, actress Anne Hathaway tried to unpack her own experiences with sexism — both on the giving and receiving end of it — discussing a time she struggled to trust a director because that director was a woman. Why was that her instinct? That's what she hopes to figure out.
What doesn't help, however, are messages that suggest women aren't capable of handling large projects like this, as though they didn't earn it. Again, on Twitter, some users replied to THR to point this out.
@THR Why is 'risk' only associated with female filmmakers? This is toxic & does nothing to further an inclusive ind… https://t.co/1ths9XWlPy— hope dickson leach (@hope dickson leach) 1496248853.0
@THR Is it only a gamble when a woman directs? Cause lots of men make that leap without it being the headline. #wonderwoman @PattyJenks— Madam I'm Adam (@Madam I'm Adam) 1496249583.0
@THR Can you do better? I.e. not subscribing to gendered Hollywood double standards + erasing women's success and NAME? Thanks in advance.— 🌻Erica Russell🌻 (@🌻Erica Russell🌻) 1496259777.0
3. Similarly experienced men direct big-budget films all the time, but you don't see nearly as many stories about them being a "gamble" or "risk." Why is that?
Fandango movie critic Erik Davis unleashed an absolutely fire string of tweets highlighting other times studios have given big budget films to directors with pretty meager portfolios. There's just one big difference here, he pointed out: Jenkins is a woman.
Remember when Disney gambled $170 million on CAP 2 on 2 brothers who previously directed episodes of COMMUNITY?? https://t.co/XkQc5JBYPR— Erik Davis (@Erik Davis) 1496249396.0
Or remember when Warners gambled $160 million on a GODZILLA director whose previous film was made for $500,000?? https://t.co/XkQc5JBYPR— Erik Davis (@Erik Davis) 1496249430.0
Or remember when Universal gambled $150 million on a JURASSIC PARK sequel on some indie director whose previous fil… https://t.co/L7ZteUKLTv— Erik Davis (@Erik Davis) 1496249603.0
Or remember when Sony gambled $230 million on a SPIDER-MAN reboot on an indie director whose previous film cost $7.… https://t.co/8NeSP1ZjPK— Erik Davis (@Erik Davis) 1496249787.0
Or remember when Disney gambled their third THOR sequel on some quirky New Zealander whose previous film cost $1.6… https://t.co/b0d3ksAtVc— Erik Davis (@Erik Davis) 1496250185.0
Wonder Woman is getting phenomenal reviews (especially when you compare it to some of the less acclaimed DC Comics movies of the past several years), so one can hope Jenkins' success helps change people's perception of just what women are capable of.
And, really, if there's one movie to help change how we talk and think about women in the entertainment industry, there's really no better answer than "Wonder Woman."