- Director Patty Jenkins is one of Business Insider’s "100 people transforming business."
- She was the first woman to direct a $100-million movie with "Wonder Woman."
- Jenkins talked to Business Insider, while taking a break from editing "Wonder Woman 1984," about accepting the role of being a leading voice in getting Hollywood to tell more female-centric stories.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
Though Patty Jenkins was behind one of the biggest hit movies of 2017 with “Wonder Woman,” and instantly became a role model for aspiring female filmmakers as the first woman to make a $100-million movie, she sometimes doesn’t feel like a trailblazer.
That’s especially true right this second, as she’s locked in an edit room in London powering through post-production on “Wonder Woman 1984” (opening in theaters June 2020).
“I just wasn’t thinking about myself when I was making the film,” Jenkins told Business Insider recently while taking a break from the edit, after being named one of our 100 people transforming business. "But with the success of the film, that’s when it started to represent so much more than I ever thought it would.”
“Wonder Woman” made over $200 million its opening weekend at the box office (another first for a female director), and Jenkins’ profile skyrocketed. Before that, she was known best as the director of the gritty indie “Monster,” which was the vehicle that earned Charlize Theron her best actress Oscar. But thanks to the success of “Wonder Woman,” Jenkins’ celebrity status rose to the point where she was a runner-up for Time’s Person of the Year in 2017.
Jenkins said that since "Wonder Woman," she’s learned that she’s perceived as more than a filmmaker. She’s an ambassador of the movement to bring more diversity to the stories being told in Hollywood. It’s something she said she accepts, but is still trying to keep within the context of moviemaking. For instance, when she had to negotiate her contract with Warner Bros. for the “Wonder Woman” sequel, she knew she had to make a statement, she said.
Here’s how she described it:
“I think when it came to doing a contract I definitely felt a huge amount of responsibility to get at least equal pay with other men making movies that are successful on the same level. There’s a quote system in Hollywood so people want to hold you to only incrementally making more. But certainly it has been shown that it’s easier for men to get their movies made, so this is kind of statistically what holds women back in job progression in many places. If you can’t continue to get little job after little job that builds up to that place, you cannot get equal pay. In this case, the movie was so successful that I said publicly, ‘If not me, who?’ I want to be getting paid a parallel to other people making really successful films like this. And so I felt that was an important point to hunker in on and was lucky to be supported in it.”
From Jenkins’ vantage point, the industry is showing promise in supporting female-focused projects. Since the release of “Wonder Woman,” we’ve finally seen a woman-led Marvel movie with “Captain Marvel,” which earned over $1 billion at the worldwide box office. And Filmmaker Cathy Yan is currently in production on the big budget DC Comics movie “Birds of Prey,” starring Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.
“I think the big difference is believing in that point of view being successful,” Jenkins said of the industry about female-focused projects since “Wonder Woman” opened. “So the more people start looking for that kind of story to be developed from the start, that’s when the big difference comes in.”
And Jenkins is continuing to do her part. Though she admitted she’s always been conscious of having her sets be gender and culturally diverse, with “Wonder Woman 1984,” she believes the crew is more diverse than the first movie.
“It’s a struggle when you’re working at the studio in England to find a really diverse crew,” Jenkins said of the first movie. “With this one, we filmed in so many different places — from Washington D.C. to Spain — it was very easy to find an incredibly diverse crew.”
With the edit of “WW84” being the biggest thing on her mind, Jenkins said it’s hard to be retrospective at this point. But you can tell she’s aware how transformative her contribution has been.
“I can definitely sit back and see that there’s been radical change from the time I signed on to do ‘Wonder Woman’ to now,” she said. “I would like to think were were a part of that.”
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