This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Pedro Pascal in a scene from "Wonder Woman 1984." (Clay Enos/Warner Bros. via AP)

From ‘Wonder Woman’ to ‘Star Wars,’ Jenkins’ rise continues

Years ago, Chris Pine turned “Wonder Woman” down. Then Patty Jenkins came on board and suddenly without even much of a script he found himself under a kind of spell listening to her vision for the film over a hamburger in Los Angeles’ Silverlake neighbourhood. His no turned into a yes on the spot.

Jenkins, the 49-year-old “ Wonder Woman 1984 ” writer-director has in the past few years turned more than one “no” into a “yes.” Along the way, she has not only cemented herself in the top echelon of big-budget filmmaking but has also forged new paths for her peers along the way with glass-ceiling shattering budgets, paydays and opportunities. Soon, she’ll be the first woman to direct a “Star Wars” film too.

It’s no surprise to her cast, who are resoundingly in awe of their director.

“She is the embodiment of exactly what I think one needs to be a good director, which is you have to on one hand be General Patton, you have to be decisive, clear, you have to be a leader. You have to be a multitasker par excellence,” Pine said. “And then you also have to be very quiet, observant. You have to be able to observe the people whom you’re asking to perform for you in order to key in to precisely the ways in which they need to be talked to or with to get the best from them. She just has an ability to do that that’s without peer in many ways.”

Pedro Pascal, who has also worked with Jenkins twice now, marveled at her unironic sincerity. It’s something that fuels and distinguishes her “Wonder Woman” films from other superhero fare.

“Everything that she does, no matter what the genre is, no matter if it’s film or if it’s television, if it’s independent or if it’s big budget, there’s always performance and there’s always wholeness and richness to the storytelling and unapologetically so,” Pascal said. “She doesn’t waste any time insisting on being ironic or too cool…it’s a kind of visceral honesty that, frankly, is underrated. As highly rated as she is, it’s not enough.”

But even with box-office receipts and praise, Jenkins still had to fight to prove her worth. In 2017, “Wonder Woman” became the highest-grossing film ever from a solo female director with over $821 million in worldwide ticket sales, proving to skeptics the worth of not just female-fronted superhero films but female-directed ones as well. Although Jenkins was already brainstorming the inevitable sequel, she held out on officially committing to direct until she secured an equitable raise, reportedly in the $7 to $9 million range. It wasn’t an uncommon sum for a man in her position, but it was unheard of for a woman. And the ask and public nature of the negotiation didn’t come easily.

“I’d never, ever in my life been somebody who talks about money or would have asked for a situation like that to happen to me. However, the movie was extremely successful and I was aware that I was not being paid on par with my peers. And so, you know, it became about something much bigger than me, even though, of course, I’m aware that it’s me,” Jenkins said. “I found myself saying, if not me, who is going to do this? And so it felt like both a personal thing, but also kind of a duty.”

She didn’t just help herself: She also helped clear a path for other women to get more opportunities to direct tentpole movies and has become a de facto mentor to her contemporaries. Gina Prince-Bythewood met with Jenkins a few times in the leadup to shooting her big action film “ The Old Guard.”

“She was so helpful,” Prince-Bythewood said earlier this summer. “What she achieved under the pressure that she had was really a beacon of light for me. Her success and her killing it and making such a good movie. It absolutely changed the game. It absolutely cracked the door open for a group of us who all had films coming out this year.”

Jenkins has been called on by men and women alike for advice about making the foray into bigger movies.

“There’s a network of filmmakers who all really kind of help each other.” Jenkins said.

And 2020 was going to be a banner year for female-directed tentpoles including “Wonder Woman 1984,” “The Old Guard,” Cathy Yan’s “Birds of Prey,” Niki Caro’s “Mulan,” Cate Shortland’s “Black Widow” and Chloé Zhao’s “Eternals.” Only one ended up with a traditional theatrical release, “Birds of Prey,” which came out before the pandemic shutdown. Others went to streaming or video on demand, or, in the case of “Wonder Woman,” a hybrid. And both “Black Widow” and “Eternals” were pushed to 2021.

“It’s been too bad that that this year was the year that they were all going to come out … It’s bad timing,” Jenkins said.

But she’s also just excited that there does seem to be a sea change happening in the industry and, pandemic aside, this year proved she was not an anomaly.

”The idea that no one had done a movie of that scale before I did and then there are like five now on the heels of it is amazing,” Jenkins said. “Obviously those directors have been out there and ready and waiting.”

—-

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Regional Airport CEO Graham Ingham has ambitious plans for the airport. (Advocate file photo).
Red Deer Regional Airport revenues climb in 2020

Bringing in more business is the 2021 goal, says director

City council will have to wait longer to hear back from administration on possible alternative sites — if the homeless shelter is moved from Red Deer downtown. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Alternative sites for homeless shelter will be explored by the City of Red Deer

Council gave administration more time to return with a report

Quentin Lee Strawberry was found not guilty of second-degree murder in connection with stabbing death of Joseph Gallant in March 2019. (Photo from RCMP)
Updated: O’Chiese man found not guilty of 2019 stabbing death of Red Deer man

Quentin Strawberry found guilty of assaulting murdered man’s common-law partner

(Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer property tax bills are in the mail

Red Deer 2021 tax notices are on their way. Red Deer property… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks’ Nils Hoglander (36) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during first-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Edmonton Oilers' Dominik Kahun (21) celebrates with teammate Connor McDavid (97) after scoring the third goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (34) during second-period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Rory McIlroy tees off on the fourth hole during the fourth round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow on Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

Canada , left to right, lead Briane Meilleur, third Val Sweeting, skip Kerri Einarson, and second Shannon Birchard discuss strategy against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. Both of Canada's teams were shut out of the medals, marking the first time ever that Canada did not reach the podium at either the men's or women's worlds in the same season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Oilers plan to keep playing McDavid, Draisaitl as NHL regular season winds down

Oilers plan to keep playing McDavid, Draisaitl as NHL regular season winds down

Canada's Tyler Ardron, right, tries to block the kick by Italy's Callum Braley during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match in Fukuoka, western Japan, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kyodo News via AP
Canadian men to face Wales and England in July rugby test matches

Canadian men to face Wales and England in July rugby test matches

John Velazquez, right, rides Medina Spirit ahead of Florent Geroux aboard Mandaloun to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Darron Cummings
Casse believes colleague Baffert deserves “due process” folowing positive test

Casse believes colleague Baffert deserves “due process” folowing positive test

Canada forward Liam Millar (23) moves the ball past Bermuda defender Eusebio Blankendal (2) during the second half of a World Cup 2022 Group B qualifying soccer match Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Raoux
Canadian men to play next two World Cup qualifying matches in the U.S.

Canadian men to play next two World Cup qualifying matches in the U.S.

Most Read