The Internet lit up yesterday after Melissa Silverstein, the Athena Film Festival creative director, announced that Wonder Woman was the first live-action film directed by a woman with a $100 million budget. That led to a flurry of articles on the ground breaking nature of the $100 million budget, then a new flurry of corrections once people realized that Kathryn Bigelow was given a $100 million budget for K-19 back in 2002.
This was taken as a sign that that female-led movies and female directors were being taken just as seriously as movies led by men. But are they? We decided to crunch some numbers.
For the sake of our comparison, we decided to group Wonder Woman in with other superhero films that either introduced or rebooted a character. We also limited our sample size to films made after Bryan Singer’s X-Men revived the genre in 2000.
So how does Wonder Woman‘s $100 million stack up to other modern superhero movies? Sadly, not very well.
Wonder Woman is the third leg of DC’s “Trinity.” She is the most well known female superhero in the world — on a par with Superman and Batman in terms of popularity. But the $100M budget she received was significantly less than Batman Begins ($150M) received 12 years earlier; and it is less than half what they allotted to reboot the Superman franchise with Superman Returns ($204M) or what they spent to reboot Superman again with Man of Steel ($225M).
Green Lantern ($200M) got twice as much money. Even R.I.P.D., the Ryan Reynolds supernatural comic-book fiasco was given a budget of $130M. In fact, Wonder Woman has been given the exact same budget as 2004’s Catwoman, a film that killed the idea of a female-fronted superhero movie for more than a decade.
Out of the 25 movies we surveyed, Wonder Woman ranked 20th in terms of budget. Only Daredevil, X-Men, Hellboy, Deadpool and Elektra were made for less. But the numbers get even worse when you adjust for inflation.
After taking inflation into consideration, X-Men and Daredevil both actually had larger budgets than Wonder Woman. leaving the Amazon in 22nd place instead of 20th. And the gap between Wonder Woman‘s budget and the budgets of other superhero films has grown even more pronounced.
Still, $100 million is serious money. Patti Jenkins is a serious director. And we have no reason to expect anything but excellence after Gal Gadot stole the show in Batman vs. Superman. But the budget that studios allot for these movies is a sign of how much faith they have in the project’s potential. And the $100M that Warner Bros. is betting on the most famous female superhero in the world is less than half what Marvel was willing to risk on an unknown talking raccoon two years ago.
Sources: The Numbers and Google