THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
Donner managed to overcome a lot of skeptics and fanboy cynicism with last summer's X-Men: First Class, which successfully relaunched Fox's superhero franchise, a movie series she's been involved with since its debut in 2000.
She credits director Matthew Vaughn, new actors to the franchise Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy and the return of producer Bryan Singer, but also the movie's setting: the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. "By going to a real historical event, it gave the movie more of a reality than the other movies had," says Donner, 61, who's married to Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner. "The other movies had a reality within their own mythology; this one had a mythology tied to an actual event, giving it relevance."
A producer since the early 1980s (Mr. Mom was her first feature credit), Donner notes that the landscape for women producers has improved since she started in the business. But the keeper of the X-Men flame has witnessed other changes in the movie business that make today's environment perhaps the toughest she's seen for the producer set -- male or female. "When studios weren't owned by corporations, they trusted the producers a lot more. In general, they are a lot more controlling than they were in the past."
On how to deal with the new times, she errs on the side of discretion: "I have to be a lot more collaborative," she says.
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