THE WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: ‘Wonder Woman’ becomes top DC Extended Universe film, while ‘The Beguiled’ tests female vs. male gazes

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Gal Gadot stars in "Wonder Woman." Warner Bros. photo

Gal Gadot stars in “Wonder Woman.” Warner Bros. photo

“Wonder Woman” continues to show her might at the box office.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, the first full-fledged cinematic outing for the venerable superhero, played by Gal Gadot, achieved another milestone last week, surpassing “Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad” to become the highest-grossing film within the DC Extended Universe films.

According to, Warner Bros. earned $2.685 million from last Thursday’s “Wonder Woman” screenings, bringing Diana Prince’s origin story’s cumulative domestic total to $330.533 million, putting it barely past previous top DCEU earner “Batman v Superman.”

Last year’s “Batman v Superman,” in which the character of Diana Prince debuted in a supporting role, earned $330.36 million domestically throughout its theatrical run. “Wonder Woman” still has a little ways to go before besting that film’s worldwide total of $873.26 million, but it’s well on its way.

According to Box Office Mojo, “Wonder Woman” lassoed another finish this weekend, placing fourth at the domestic box office with an estimated $15.57 million. The film’s domestic cumulative haul now stands at $346.1 million after five weeks in release.

Internationally, the World War I period piece added another $13.6 million, growing its global tally of $708 million. That means “Wonder Woman” has already surpassed the domestic and international numbers for “Man of Steel” ($$291.05 million, $668.05 million) and the domestic total for “Suicide Squad” ($325.1 million), while closing in on the latter’s worldwide take ($745.6 million).

At this point, “Wonder Woman” is the third largest domestic release among all DC Comics based features – behind “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” which predate the current DCEU, and becomes one of the top 100 all-time worldwide grossers.

As previously reported, that means “Wonder Woman” also surpasses Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s “Kung Fu Panda 2,” which made $665.7 million worldwide, in 2011, to become the highest-grossing film directed solely by a woman.

The superhero adventure already has become highest-grossing live-action film to be directed by a woman, after eclipsing the $609.8 million racked up by 2008’s “Mamma Mia!,” the Abba movie musical directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

Jenkins’ long-awaited second feature film, “Wonder Woman” also earned an estimated $100.5 million for its opening weekend in North America, marking the biggest opening ever for a female director. The previous record holder, director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” brought in $85.2 million in 2015.

To read my glowing review of “Wonder Woman,” which also is one of the best-reviewed films of the year, click here.

Comparing and contrasting the paths for male and female directors

I’ve been trumpeting the accomplishments of Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” pretty hard on this blog over the past few years, and although I doubt any readers of this blog need a reason, Kayleigh Donaldson provides one in her feature “The Upwards Failing of Colin Trevorrow and Why It Matters” for

In the feature, Donaldson effectively compares and contrasts the career trajectories for Mimi Leder, who made her name through her Emmy-winning work on “ER,” directed the one of the top-grossing films of 1998 with “Deep Impact” and then went to “movie jail” and didn’t direct another film for nine years after the middling performance of her 2000 family drama “Pay It Forward,” to those of Trevorrow, who made his feature debut with the Sundance hit “Safety Not Guaranteed,” won the choice gig helming “Jurassic World” on director Brad Bird’s recommendation and managed steer to the reboot of one of the most popular film franchises of all time to giant box-office success. That he just released a critical and commercial flop with his third film, “The Book of Henry,” will seemingly have no “deep impact” on his still rather young moviemaking career, as his next project is another coveted gig: “Star Wars: Episode IX.”

“Ultimately, ‘The Book of Henry’ will be a minor blip on Trevorrow’s radar as he suits up to direct one of the most anticipated films of the decade. That’s the problem. Mimi Leder goes to movie jail: Colin Trevorrow carries on,” Donaldson writes.

“Let me get this out of the way before I continue: I am not advocating for the end of Trevorrow’s career, nor am I personally attacking him. This is not really about Trevorrow so much as it is about the industry, mindset and gender biases in place that allow mediocrity to flourish as long as it’s created by a white male.”

Like Donaldson, I’m not rooting for Trevorrow to fail. Despite his creative decision to sentence Bryce Dallas Howard’s “Jurassic World” character to the horrific fate of fleeing dinosaurs in high heels, I remain a big fan of his breakout movie “Safety Not Guaranteed,” which made my list of top 10 films of 2012. But when Trevorrow and his contemporaries Jordan Vogt-Roberts and Jon Watts manage to get jobs helming installments in nine-figure franchises while much more experienced women directors are lucky to get work on television, there’s clearly something wrong with the system.

Much like Leder, who recently made a comeback with her celebrated work on HBO’s “The Leftovers,” Jenkins previously directed Charlize Theron to Oscar victory with her acclaimed 2003 biopic “Monster.” Although she directed episodes of television’s “Arrested Development,” “Entourage” and the Emmy-nominated pilot for “The Killing,” Jenkins had to wait 14 years after her critically heralded “Monster” before directing another feature film.

As I noted in my “Wonder Woman” review, Diana Prince’s feature film debut came 76 years after the fearless Amazon princess made her bow in DC Comics. Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man” ushered in the current golden age of comic-book movies nine years ago, and “Wonder Woman” is the first to showcase a female lead. The last female superhero vehicle to charge into cinemas was the dismal “Elektra” in 2005, which incidentally debuted two years after Jenkins’ last feature.

So, for women who love movies, especially movies made by women and about women, the stakes for “Wonder Woman” were high, because history has shown us that movies by women and about women aren’t allowed to underperform, much less fail. And even if they succeed, there’s no guarantee that Hollywood will give them a chance to come back to the big screen.

Nicole Kidman stars in Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled." Focus Features photo

Nicole Kidman stars in Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled.” Focus Features photo

‘The Beguiled’ tests the female vs. males gazes

As previously reported, Oscar-winning writer-director Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”) has already made Cannes Film Festival history with her Focus Features period drama “The Beguiled,” becoming just the second woman in the event’s 70-year history to win best director.

As Carrie Rickey notes in her intriguing New York Times analysis, Coppola’s “The Beguiled” also provides an interesting opportunity to compare the male vs. female gazes when it comes to filmmaking. That’s because Coppola’s “The Beguiled” is the second film of that name to adapt Thomas Cullinan’s 1966 novel “A Painted Devil,” about an injured Union soldier who is taken in at a Southern girls’ boarding school during the waning days of the Civil War.

In the late Don Siegel’s 1971 film, starring Clint Eastwood as Cpl. John McBurney, the director “framed the story as an overripe Southern gothic, with the headmistress of the school, Miss Martha (Geraldine Page), and her students as castrating harpies,” Rickey notes.

In Coppola’s version, she notes, Colin Farrell plays the wounded soldier and Nicole Kidman plays Miss Martha, “the steel-magnolia administrator who regards the corporal as the Big Bad Wolf.”

“Siegel told his film from a male perspective of a guy surrounded by crazy women. I tell mine through the filter of women’s frustrated desires,” Coppola told Rickey in a phone interview.

Although Coppola said she isn’t so sure there’s a difference between the male and the female looking through the camera when it comes to making movies, the writer-director said watching Siegel’s film left her scratching her head – and determined to go back to the book.

“I didn’t understand why the story was strictly from the man’s perspective,” she said. “Though written by a man, it also told the story from the perspectives of the female characters and helped me understand better who they were, and that it was a power struggle between the man and the women.”



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