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Wonder Woman Crushed the Tired Idea That Women Can't Direct Big Box Office

Wonder Woman Crushed the Tired Idea That Women Can't Direct Big Box Office

Wonder Woman

Of course women can direct big box office, and Patty Jenkins proved it.

Well before Wonder Woman, starring breakout newcome Gal Gadot as the warrior princess, opened last week, naysayers gnashed their teeth wondering if it were possible for a woman to direct a successful superhero film. Well, director Patty Jenkins proved it's possible, and she's got the giant box office receipts to prove it with a $100.5 million draw, the biggest-ever opening box office for a film by a female director, according to The New York Times. Now that the myth that women can't pull audiences into the theater or direct a superhero movie (Jenkins is the first) has been dispelled, it's time to put that particularly self-serving, misogynist narrative to bed forever.

Just last week The Hollywood Reporter declared in a tweet that Warner Bros., the studio that produced the film, had taken a "gamble" on Jenkins, a female director whose only other feature film was the decidedly independent Monster in 2003. That's the type of anxiety-inducing language that was not applied when Colin Trevorrow -- who had only a tiny indie under his belt in which he did not direct Charlize Theron to an Oscar, as Jenkins did with Monster -- landed the mega-blockbuster Jurassic World, or when any number of male directors with marginal experience were offered massive opportunities.

Not only did Jenkins topple the box office opening record for a female director, which was previously held by 50 Shades of Grey'sSam Taylor-Johnson at $82.5 million, the film was widely praised and garnered high Rotten Tomatoes scores, especially in light of how Zach Snyder's Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice rated. That 2016 film, a sequel of sorts to Superman: Man of Steel but also the film that introduced Ben Affleck's Batman into this D.C. movie universe, pulled in $170 million at the box office but earned a 27 percent rating from critics and a 63 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman's Rotten Tomatoes score is 93 percent from the critics and the audience, making it one of the best-reviewed superhero films of all time, according to CNN.

"Any ridiculous notion that a woman may not be suited to direct a big-budget superhero movie is hopefully once and for all shattered," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore, a company that tracks box office stats. He added that while the box office numbers for Wonder Woman weren't as high as those for films by some of Jenkins's male colleagues, its opening weekend was an achievement for women in directing and for the movie industry, according to The New York Times.

Pondering, discussing, and kvetching about female directors while failing to provide opportunities for them to prove themselves has become a favorite pastime in Hollywood for a few years now. And whether benchmarks like Jenkins' achievement will move the needle far enough to quash the false narrative about women directors of not remains to be seen. There was plenty of optimism about women at the helm of a film following Kathryn Bigelow's historic Best Director Oscar win for 2009's The Hurt Locker, when she became the fourth woman ever nominated for Best Director and the first to win. Then, out of 35 people nominated in the category over the years since she won, the Academy has not recognized a single woman -- not even Bigelow for her masterful Zero Dark Thirty (2012), although it was nominated for Best Picture.

Just last week Sofia Coppola, one of the four women ever nominated for the Best Director Oscar, claimed the Cannes Film Festival's coveted Best Director prize, making her the second woman in the festival's 70-year history to win that accolade. The last time a woman won the prize was 56 years ago.

Another story Hollywood likes to tell itself that benefits the men in power is that despite mega-franchises featuring female leads including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hunger Games, and Twilight, men simply won't attend female-led movies. But Wonder Woman'sexit polling showed that its audience broke down to 52 percent female and 48 percent male, according to the Times.

While Wonder Woman hits that sweet spot of recognition, nostalgia, and general badassery that appeals to a wide audience, for a change, this summer offers up plenty of opportunities to support female-directed and female-led films at the box office. Among them are Coppola's eerie thriller The Beguiled, the raunchy comedy Rough Night starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, and Broad City'sIlana Glazer, and Theron as a diabolical government agent in Atomic Blonde. Now that Wonder Woman and Jenkins have laid the groundwork for a big summer box office for women, it's up to us to show up.

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