Adjusted domestic grosses over $100 million, by director (continued)
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 (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).
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.
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.
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 (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.
Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.