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'Wonder Woman' Smashes Domestic Box Office Record For Female Directors

Gal Gadot plays the titular superhero in <em>Wonder Woman, </em>which just broke the opening-weekend domestic box office record for a film directed by a woman.
Clay Enos
Warner Bros and DC Comics
Gal Gadot plays the titular superhero in Wonder Woman, which just broke the opening-weekend domestic box office record for a film directed by a woman.

Wonder Woman was a box office smash on its opening weekend, raking in more than $100 million domestically — a new record for a movie directed by a woman.

Deadline reported Monday that the final tally for the film was $103.1 million, even higher than the initial Sunday estimates.

That handily defeats the previous record for a movie directed by a woman — $85.1 million for Sam Taylor-Johnson's Fifty Shades of Grey.

And it compares well to similar movies — that is, superhero flicks that aren't sequels or ensemble films. While it's not as big as the opening weekend for Man of Steel or Deadpool, it easily surpasses Doctor Strange and the first Iron Man, Thor and Captain America movies.

Sales overseas were impressive too, as NPR movie critic Bob Mondello notes. The film has made $223 million internationally.

The film's robust earnings are a big win for DC Comics, which has often struggled to match the success of Marvel properties at the box office.

And, of course, it's a triumph for Patty Jenkins — the first woman to ever direct a big-budget superhero movie.

In fact, she's only the second woman to single-handedly direct any Hollywood live-action movie with a production budget over $100 million. The first was Kathryn Bigelow with K-19: The Widowmaker, in 2002, according to the Hollywood Reporter. (There won't be another 15-year gap before the next one: Ava DuVernay and Niki Caro are both working on major projects.)

Wonder Woman is Jenkins' second feature, after Monster, and she's spent more than a decade working to make the movie happen. She told CBS that when her dream project became reality, it brought a sudden sense of pressure:

"The surreality of, 'I can't believe we're getting to make Wonder Woman,' and also, 'Oh my God, we have to make the greatest Wonder Woman of all time!' " she said.

"The director in me wants this film that I made to succeed. But the person who's not me at all, who lives inside of me ... has heard people say for many years, 'Ah, nobody would go see a female superhero film, women don't like action,' all those things. That part of me is watching, saying, 'Ah, let's prove them wrong.' "

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.