With two “Wonder Woman” movies under her belt and big budget tentpoles such as “Cleopatra” and “Star Wars: Rogue Squadron” in her future, Patty Jenkins has emerged as one of the biggest female filmmakers in the world. And yet, it took nearly quitting the superhero franchise she helped turn into a worldwide phenomenon to ensure she would be paid equal to her male director counterparts. On a recent episode of MTV’s “Happy Sad Confused” podcast (via NME), Jenkins got honest about the salary dispute that erupted over “Wonder Woman 1984.”
“I totally did [come close to walking away],” Jenkins said. “I started to walk away. I was going to walk away. I even said, ‘I would be happy to go to another studio and make a quarter as much because it’s not a sequel on principle. No problem.”
Jenkins called it “uncomfortable” when news originally leaked about behind-the-scenes tensions with Warner Bros. over her “Wonder Woman 1984” salary as she never wanted the money side of the job to go public. However, Jenkins knew she had to fight to be paid what she was worth in order to set an example for all directors moving forward, regardless of gender.
“It’s interesting as someone who never made any profit in my career up until ‘Wonder Woman,’ that I was always at peace with it. I was like, ‘Hey I get it,'” Jenkins said about being paid less than fellow male directors for much of her career. “But now I was like, ‘Listen, I 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 continued, “It was easy to find that all of the men not just had quotes, they’d made an independent film and then a first [superhero] movie. They got paid seven times more than me for the first superhero movie. Then on the second one, they got paid more than me still. 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.”
The director said she kept telling herself throughout the dispute, “If I can’t be victorious in this regard, then I’m letting everyone down,” adding, “And if not me, who? So it became something I became very, very, very passionate about.”
“Wonder Woman 1984” opens in theaters December 25, the same day it launches on HBO Max for 31 days. Head over to MTV’s website to listen to Jenkins’ podcast appearance in its entirety.