Ava DuVernay Will Be the First Woman of Color to Direct a 100 Million Dollar Film
By now you’re well-aware that Hollywood has a real problem with female directors, who are typically not given the same chances (read: jobs, budgets, et al.) as their male peers. Ditto for people of color. That makes today’s news particularly heartening, as Ava DuVernay is set to become the first woman of color to helm a $100 million dollar film — a precedent that could (and should) pave the way for studios to hand more big budget blockbusters over to women.
Women and Hollywood picked up an interesting tidbit from Deadline’s report on Oprah Winfrey’s casting in A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay’s upcoming adaptation of the Madeleine L’Engle novel of the same name. The Disney project has a reported budget of over $100 million — hardly surprising given that it’s a major family-friendly feature based on a beloved book.
But what is surprising is that DuVernay will now be the third woman to helm a big, live-action studio film with a budget north of $100 million. She follows in the footsteps of Kathryn Bigelow, who directed the 2002 film K-19: The Widowmaker, and Patty Jenkins, the director of the upcoming Wonder Woman solo film (also notable as WB is releasing a female-oriented superhero film almost two full years before Marvel can do the same).
Not only is DuVernay the third woman to direct a film with a budget over $100 million, but she’s the first woman of color to do so, and that’s huge. In recent years we’ve watched as indie filmmakers with typically only one or two credits to their name have been hired to helm major blockbusters: Colin Trevorrow on Jurassic World, Jordan Vogt-Roberts on Kong: Skull Island and (notoriously) Marc Webb on The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, and so on.
Rarely is the same opportunity afforded to an independent female director, which sadly makes women like Patty Jenkins and Ava DuVernay the exception to the rule. The are plenty of female indie filmmakers who could make a great blockbuster if given the chance (Jennifer Kent, Leslye Headland, Lynne Ramsay, Ana Lily Amirpour — to name a few), but they’ll never do so unless studios start hiring them and trusting them with larger budgets.
We’ve seen female-centric films make some serious bank at the box office with everything from The Hunger Games to the comedies of Paul Feig. Scarlett Johansson is currently the highest-grossing actress of all time, and for good reason. If people enjoy movies about women, then who’s to say the wouldn’t enjoy watching the same movies if they were made by women?
Ava DuVernay is an incredibly talented director who deserves this opportunity regardless of color and gender, and the fact that she’s helming a $100 million film for Disney just gives us another reason to celebrate her. Hopefully A Wrinkle in Time will become one big budget project of many to be directed by a woman, and not just another exception to the rule.