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A $103.3 million domestic opening usually means a sequel is a no-brainer — but director Patty Jenkins has yet to sign on the dotted line for a Wonder Woman follow-up.
While star Gal Gadot has an option in place for Wonder Woman 2 as part of her overall deal to appear in several DC movies, Warner Bros. executives enlisted Jenkins for just one film, a decision that could end up costing the studio millions of dollars if Jenkins’ reps drive a hard bargain for her to return.
At the time she was hired, Jenkins had directed just one movie, her 2003 feature debut Monster, and she was taking over the long-gestating project from Michelle MacLaren, who left over creative differences. A one-picture-only deal is said to be standard practice at Warner Bros. for directors taking on a big-budget studio film for the first time.
Warners execs also may have been a bit unprepared for the level of success and acclaim Wonder Woman has achieved; initial tracking reports predicted Jenkins’ $150 million-budgeted film would open to about $65 million domestic, solid but hardly a reason to begin planning a long-range strategy. And the studio had been focusing on putting together Justice League Dark, a supernatural team-up project, and Batgirl, a Joss Whedon-helmed film (among other Bat-offerings), as the likely next movies to go into production in the DC Comics universe.
Also a factor in not locking in Jenkins is the studio’s more filmmaker-centric approach to its DC slate, where installments are not fait accompli; 2013’s Man of Steel, for example, still doesn’t have a direct sequel despite grossing more than $668 million worldwide.
Some insiders say it was only in recent weeks that Wonder Woman buzz began to grow on the Warners lot in Burbank, so the studio wanted to wait for the opening weekend results before initiating any negotiations. This strategy is a shift from the tactic under previous regimes, which got to work on sequels early. Warners famously greenlighted a sequel to The Hangover two months before the first film was released.
Sources say the studio intends to begin negotiations with Jenkins shortly (although the exact timing is unclear), and the filmmaker and her reps at CAA, Anonymous Content and Jackoway Tyerman will enjoy enormous leverage. Jenkins could not only return to the director’s chair on Wonder Woman 2 but also could ink a more expansive deal that would allow her to work with DC Entertainment president and chief creative officer Geoff Johns on a script treatment for that movie and possibly others as well.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival