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‘Wonder Woman’: The Story Behind Michelle MacLaren’s Exit

While Warner Bros. made a swift decision this week to hire Patty Jenkins as its new “Wonder Woman” director, industry insiders are still chattering about why original helmer Michelle MacLaren suddenly vanished from the project.

The studio is declining to elaborate on the cliched “creative differences” joint statement that was issued when the two parted ways. But, according to multiple sources close to the project, the director’s vision for the movie was vastly different from the studio’s view. MacLaren envisioned the DC Comics-based “Wonder Woman” movie as an epic origin tale in the vein of “Braveheart,” whereas Warner wanted a more character-driven story that was less heavy on action.

Warner executives, these insiders said, became increasingly concerned about MacLaren directing a large-scale, action-packed production when her experience was limited to the small screen, where she made her name directing episodes of “Game of Thrones,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.”

The studio is expected to stick with a more character-driven movie with Jenkins on board. Also an experienced TV director of shows including “The Killing,” she cut her teeth on the indie feature “Monster.”

MacLaren was also unaccustomed to the laborious development process associated with making movies. One source described that process as “tortuous” when it came to the pre-production of “Wonder Woman.” After Jason Fuchs delivered his script, the studio put as many as five other writers on the project to work up various scripts while executives simultaneously tested story concepts. “They didn’t like MacLaren’s test,” said one studio executive. MacLaren’s rep declined comment.

One of the reasons that Warner acted so quickly in picking a replacement for MacLaren was to make sure the studio stayed on track for the film’s planned fall start date and 2017 release.

The studio will now look to get Jenkins up to speed quickly and is already preparing to find the male lead and love interest for “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot. Test offers for a handful of actors are expected in the next week.

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