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Female Directors Power List: See Which Filmmakers Grossed Over $100 Million

Blockbuster women directors aren't as rare as some might have you believe, and they reveal the strengths and barriers to females getting their due in the industry.

Amy Heckerling, Nancy Meyers, Penny Marshall, and Nora Ephron

Amy Heckerling, Nancy Meyers, Penny Marshall, and Nora Ephron

Spaulding/WWD/REX/Shutterstock; REX/Shutterstock; Pace/BEI/REX/Shutterstock; Schwab/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

Adjusted domestic grosses over $100 million, by director (continued)

“Look Who’s Talking Too”


Amy Heckerling (4)

Top Movies: Look Who’s Talking ($308.0), European Vacation ($122.9), Clueless ($115.1), Look Who’s Talking Too ($100.2)

In 1989, Heckerling’s “Look Who’s Talking” took over as the biggest live-action success directed by a woman and has held that position for 28 years. Her legacy, though, comes more from her two more teen-oriented hits, “Clueless” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (adjusted $81 million). An erratic career since 2000 (including TV series work) has kept her career totals just shy of Ephron and Meyers. Only “Talking” seems to have had much international interest.



Penny Marshall (3)

Top Movies: Big ($247.3), A League of Their Own ($229.1), Awakenings ($109.4)

Does any actor owe as much to female directors than Tom Hanks? Marshall’s two biggest both featured him, while her other top grosser was a Best Picture drama with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. Falling a little below that adjusted $100 million mark were two films with black leads — “The Preacher’s Wife” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” All told, she also has an adjusted domestic total nearly identical to Meyers and Heckerling in the mid-$800 million range. Of all four biggest successes, though, she has amassed by far the least foreign gross.

Penelope Spheeris and Lorne Michaels on the set of “Wayne’s World”


Penelope Spheeris (2)

Top Movies: Wayne’s World ($259.2), The Little Rascals ($110.2)

A decade or more in the indie world, including acclaimed documentaries on the punk music scene, led to her studio breakthrough with “Wayne’s World.” \Apart from “Rascals,” she also nearly reached the $100 million-adjusted level with “The Beverly Hillbillies,” with “Black Sheep” also having some success. It should be noted of all the Saturday Night Live film adaptations, hers ranks first (with “The Blues Brothers” number two).


“Alvin and The Chipmunks – The Squeakquel”


Betty Thomas (2) 

Top Movies: Dr. Dolittle ($271.2), Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel ($250.2)

The director came out of TV (she won an acting Emmy for “Hill Street Blues”). Her specialty is popular culture; under the adjusted $100 million mark but still strong were her “Brady Bunch Movie” and “Private Parts” with Howard Stern. She also has two directing Emmys, included “The Late Shift,” about the Jay Leno/David Letterman competition to take over “The Tonight Show.” Her top hits also were strong overseas, with more than 40 percent of her take from foreign.

Editorial Use OnlyMandatory Credit: Photo by Shaan Kokin/Juliens Auction/REX/Shutterstock (990529ar) Seen from the film Yentl. Eight costume pieces from the film Yentl: two black and white striped adjustable sock garters; two black yarmulkes; black fabric necktie; grey wool ?Greek Fisherman?s hat? with black braided hatband; partial striped woven wool tallit katan with Velcro to attach to another costume piece; cream cotton underskirt. Streisand can be seen wearing many of the pieces in various scenes throughout the film Yentl, Barwood Films, 1983. Estimate: $300 - $500 Auction of items belonging to Barbra Streisand, Beverly Hills, California, America - Aug 2009 FULL FEATURE LINK: http://www.rexfeatures.com/nanolink/4g2l Celebrity legend Barbra Streisand is putting herself up for sale in a fascinating charity auction. Full-size promo posters of the versatile star form part of a collection of over 500 personal items to go under the hammer for charity. The actress and singer is auctioning off items from her career and her homes to benefit the Streisand Foundation, an organisation set up in 1986 to aids humanitarian causes worldwide. Among items include are iconic costumes from her movies Yentl, Funny Lady and Nuts. There will also opportunities to bid on her pink robe from the 1973 movie The Way We Were, outfits from the 2004 comedy Meet The Fockers, and glamourous stage-worn gowns from her 1994 and 2000 singing tours. Other lots include paintings, furniture and decorative works of art from the 67-year-old's New York apartment, Carolwood home in Beverly Hills, and her Malibu Ranch house.


Juliens Auction/REX/Shutterstock

Barbra Streisand (2)

Top Movies: The Prince of Tides ($159.3), Yentl ($107.3)

“Yentl” in 1983 was easily the most successful studio film ever from a woman director. Streisand had to confront widespread doubt as to her competence before this was released, exemplifying the challenges her gender still confronts. By this point, her contemporaries Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford were established as directors. She went on to direct two more features, with “Tides” even more successful.



Vicky Jenson (2)

Top Movies: Shrek ($418.0), Shark Tale ($229.0)

A groundbreaking animation director who shared credit for two major Dreamworks releases. She went on to “Shark Tale” post-“Shrek” (she did not work on the sequels). Her live-action “Post Grad” in 2009 did little business. Her recent work includes advertising clients and theater directing.


Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman85th Annual Academy Awards Oscars, Press Room, Los Angeles, America - 24 Feb 2013

Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman at the 85th Annual Academy Awards

Jim Smeal/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock

Brenda Chapman (2)

Top Movies: Brave ($237.3), The Prince of Egypt ($184.4)

A pioneer among female animated feature directors. With “Brave,” she was the first woman Disney ever assigned to an animated film, with DreamWorks’ “Egypt” breaking the barrier for all studio entries. Disney added a co-director, Mark Andrews, in mid-production to take it to the finish line.


Jennifer Yuh Nelson Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson arrives at the premiere of "Kung Fu Panda 2" in Los Angeles, . The film opens May 26, 2011Kung Fu Panda 2, Los Angeles, USA

Jennifer Yuh Nelson and “Kung Fu Panda 2”

Matt Sayles/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Jennifer Yuh Nelson (2)

Top Movies: Kung Fu Panda 2 ($181.4), Kung Fu Panda 3 ($147.8)

Yuh Nelson received solo credit on “Kung Fu Panda 2,” unlike most animated feature directors. She is now filming a live action sci-fi thriller for 20th Century Fox.

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