She’ll become the first black woman to direct this kind of movie…
Once again, we are not worthy of Ava DuVernay in 2016. Earlier this week, it was announced that A Wrinkle in Time, directed by DuVernay, would have a budget of at least $100 million. That is a pretty typical budget for a big Hollywood blockbuster, sure, but, DuVernay is not the typical director. With this announcement, it has become clear that she would become the first woman of color to direct a $100 million film. The first. Ever. And, she is now the third woman to direct a film of this size, after Kathryn Bigelow for her 2002 K-19: The Widowmaker and Patty Jenkins’ upcoming Wonder Woman.
This is mega exciting for a huge number of reasons. A massive studio like Disney putting DuVernay behind the camera for one of their films means that her voice will be heard by an extremely wide audience. DuVernay has made just three narrative-based feature films all with relatively smaller budgets. Her first film, I Will Follow, was made with a budget of $50,000 (DuVernay’s own money) and in just 15 days. Her follow-up in 2012, Middle of Nowhere, was just slightly larger with a budget of $200,000 and made in 19 days. For comparison, the studio average for shooting a film is 40 days. In 2014, DuVernay’s Selma made huge waves in the film industry. With a budget of $20 million, she managed to create one of the best films of that year. It was critically adored and nominated for two Oscars, including Best Picture. DuVernay has worked her way up this moment and has more than earned the creative freedom that will come with a big budget.
This budget also shows that Disney is not afraid to take a chance and do something different from the rest of Hollywood. A recent trend for Hollywood adaptations is to find a male indie director who has maybe one critical hit under his belt and give him a massive picture to direct. We have seen it with many of the new solo Marvel hero movies, Jurassic World, the upcoming Kong: Skull Island, etc. The list goes on and on. But, women and directors of color almost never get the same opportunity. Some other notable directors of color who have had the chance to work with a budget of $100 million include Justin Lin for Star Trek Beyond, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’s Tim Story, and Fast 8 director F. Gary Gray. Equal representation behind and in front of the camera is so important and Hollywood needs to be ready to take the step of hiring women and people of color. Box office reports continually prove that we have moved past the thought of women and people of color not making money. There is no reason anymore for big-budgeted blockbusters to be dominated by white male directors.
Film School Rejects has already championed 2016 as Ava DuVernay’s year. It looks like this queen is not giving up her crown easily because A Wrinkle in Time is set to be released in 2017. The film is being adapted by Jennifer Lee, director of Frozen, and stars Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey is a frequent collaborator of DuVernay’s having had a supporting role in Selma and currently co-creating and executive producing DuVernay’s television show Queen Sugar on the Oprah Winfrey Network. A huge congratulations goes out to Ava DuVernay. This is a huge milestone that you are accomplishing and we welcome your continual glass-ceiling breaking.