“Wonder Woman” puts female empowerment at the forefront, given that it stars and is directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins), and Sherry Lansing, legendary producer and former studio executive, hopes that this movie will be the “tipping point” for more female-driven films in the future.
“The fact that it was directed by a female, stars Gal Gadot in the lead … it was just very emotional to see the movie,” Lansing told TheWrap. “Hopefully this will be the tipping point … to make people wake up and realize that a female-driven movie is as strong as a male-driven movie and females can direct action movies as well.”
Breaking ground is something Lansing knows about, having been the first woman to head a Hollywood movie studio when she became the President of Production at 20th Century Fox in 1980 at the age of 35. There, the company released “Fatal Attraction” in 1987, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture alongside Stanley R. Jaffe. In 1992, she became the Chairman of Paramount Pictures, during which the company released hit films like “Forrest Gump” and “Titanic” (although the latter one was released with Fox).
Lansing recalled the movie “The First Wives Club,” which was released in 1996 through Paramount, and how the movie broke barriers for women as well.
“When ‘First Wives Club’ came out, it was against Bruce Willis’ action movie [“Last Man Standing”] and it was number one, beating the men,” she said. “Now, you are watching for example the ‘Twilight’ series — again with women [at the forefront] — and hopefully this will be the turning point and people will wake up. What is more fun than seeing a female empowerment movie with gorgeous women?”
On Monday, TheWrap interviewed several Hollywood insiders who said that the female-led blockbuster “Wonder Woman,” while it made history over the weekend by banking the biggest opening for a female-directed movie ever, is unlikely to spark a revolution in studio decision-making anytime soon. After all, TheWrap published a report in March that said out of the 149 movies slated for a wide release from the six legacy studios over the next three years, only 12 have female directors.
But Lansing believes that this movie will spark imminent change for women in the industry.
“I think that there is been a ‘consciousness-raising’ led by women, with a lot of men embracing it as well,” she said. “Certainly, Ryan Murphy is a perfect example of this. There is always something that tips the scale, that makes everyone go, ‘wow!’ But when something breaks through in such an enormous way and defies every concept — ‘Wonder Woman’ broke records — it shows that reality can’t be denied any longer. It gives me goosebumps,” she added.
Lansing added that a lot has changed since she became the head of 20th Century Fox. She remembered the New York Times headline she saw of her hiring announcement — “Sherry Lansing, Former Model Named Head of Fox Productions” — and said that a headline like that would no longer make it onto the front page in 2017 because of the positive strides for women in the industry.
“That would never happen today!” she said. “Look at the number of women leading studios since then … those announcements no longer get the front page of New York Times. It was everywhere because it was such a shock. We no longer go, ‘a woman is running a studio?’ We accept it. The same thing is going to happen with a woman directing a franchise movie. Have things changed? Of course. Nobody thinks a woman can’t run a studio. We’ve conquered that.”
Lansing added, “The only time that we’re going to be equal is when you get to choose whatever you want to do. Whether you are a female or male, you are chosen because you are simply the best for the job.”