With $781 million in global box office receipts, “Wonder Woman” has already broken records as the highest-grossing movie directed by a woman ever.
Now Warner Bros., the studio behind the film, wants the action movie to break another glass ceiling. Although executives haven’t commented publicly on their plans, they have internally discussed launching a formidable awards-season campaign for the movie, in the hopes of making it the first comic-book film nominated for best picture, Variety has learned.
The studio will also stump Patty Jenkins for best director, which would also be groundbreaking. No director of a comic-book film — not even Christopher Nolan — has ever been nominated, and only men have ruled the category since (and before) Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010.
A spokesperson for WB declined to comment.
This won’t be a cheap endeavor, as the road to the Oscars keeps getting costlier. Big dollars are spent on taking out advertising, making watermarked DVDs, setting screenings, and paying for talent to travel to both coasts, to remind voters how hard they suffered for their craft.
The Oscar race took a turn in 2009, after another Warner. Bros. film, “The Dark Knight,” failed to secure a best picture nomination. In 2010, the Academy expanded its best picture category from five to a maximum of 10 movies. But although blockbusters like “Gravity” and “The Martian” have made the cut, a comic book movie has yet to compete in the top race.
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That’s because the Academy is still too stodgy to recognize Batman or Deadpool as art. But Warner Bros. executives have been wondering if new membership expansions, which have increased the voting body to include younger members and more diversity, will boost “Wonder Woman’s” chances. (Among the new class of voters is star Gal Gadot, who will presumably support this mission.)
The studio’s efforts will include reintroducing the film this fall, to scarce few who may not have seen it. Insiders report strong reactions to the screening of “Wonder Woman” at the Academy, as it’s been championed by a liberal Hollywood and a reinvigorated wave of feminism in response to Donald Trump. But the movie’s glow could diminish if the mashup tentpole “Justice League,” which comes out in November and co-stars Gadot, gets ripped to shreds by harsh reviews.
The awards-season race usually starts in the fall, though movies released earlier in the year — such as “Mad Max: Fury Road” — can make a comeback and rally with plenty of nominations. Many of the Academy Awards contenders in 2017 seem to be lower-budged films, such as Paramount’s “Downsizing” and “mother!,” Netlfix’s “Mudbound,” and Sony Pictures Classics’ “Call Me By Your Name.”
With all the focus on “Wonder Woman,” Warner Bros. won’t be neglecting its other summer hit. Sources report to Variety that the studio will also be bringing out the guns for “Dunkirk” and its director Nolan. That means, in a year without a clear frontrunner, Warner Bros. will have two big studio movies trying to crush the competition.