Wonder Woman’s sequel wouldn’t be the same without original director Patty Jenkins on board, but it’s amazing how close we came to her stepping away from one of the most anticipated superhero films of the decade. In a new interview, Jenkins gets candid about why it took so long to negotiate her salary for Wonder Woman 1984, and how hard she had to fight for her fair share.
“I started to walk away. Yeah, I was going to walk away. I even said, ‘I’d be happy to go to another studio and make a quarter as much because it’s not a sequel,’ on principle. No problem,” Jenkins said in an appearance on the MTV podcast Happy Sad Confused.
Jenkins talked with writer Josh Horowitz about the months-long salary negotiations over Wonder Woman 1984 that made headlines in 2017. The director said she was embarrassed that news of her salary talks had made it to the press, as she’d wanted to keep it private, but noted that she was ready, willing, and able to drop out of the sequel if Warner Bros. wouldn’t budge on her salary.
“It’s all those years after Monster that I started to really notice, ‘Jesus Christ, I’m a woman filmmaker. I’m not a filmmaker, I’m a woman filmmaker.’ And it’s shaded so many things. When it comes to the industry, in what I’ve been offered and how I’m offered things, I’ve definitely noticed it,” Jenkins said. “It’s interesting as someone who never made any profit my entire career up until after Wonder Woman, but I was always at peace with it. I was like, ‘Hey I get it.’ But now I was like, ‘Listen, I’ve never made any money in my career because you always had the leverage and I didn’t.’ But now the shoe is on the other foot so it’s time to turn the tables.”
Jenkins was reportedly paid about $1 million base salary to direct the first Wonder Woman, which grossed over $400 million in the United States. As she noted during the interview, that amount pales in comparison to what several of her male counterparts have gotten during their transitions from indie darlings to blockbuster superhero movie directors. So she bartered for her fair pay, and she bartered hard. For the follow-up film, she reportedly negotiated around $9 million base pay, which is a record salary for women filmmakers.
“It was an easy fight to say, ‘This can’t be. It super can’t be. And it really can’t be on Wonder Woman.’ It was an interesting thing to do, but it was an easy thing to do in the fact I was dead serious,” she said. “If I can’t be victorious in that regard, then I’m letting everybody down. If not me, who?”
Wonder Woman 1984 comes out in theaters and on HBO Max December 25.
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