EXCLUSIVE: Another day, another sexual harassment allegation against a powerful man. This industry is making strides to right the ship, but how many women are actually being employed in this industry behind the camera? Are people just talking the talk but not walking the walk? Deadline decided investigate, looking at just how many female directors have gigs at the major studios/production entities. It’s MGM’s turn.
This week, MGM announced that Madonna signed on as the director of Taking Flight. For a smaller studio, they do have a track record over the years of hiring female helmers. For instance, last year, it hired Stella Meghie who helmed the romantic drama Everything, Everything (done in conjunction with Warner Bros.) based off on Nicola Yoon’s best-selling YA novel. The studio’s big redo Carrie was also helmed by a woman. Maybe one day James Bond?
Here’s a look at what MGM is doing to employ female directors:
In the can:
MGM tapped Rachel Lee Goldenberg for its musical adaptation of the 1983 romantic comedy Valley Girl. The story follows Julie (Jessica Rothe), a sweet-natured San Fernando Valley girl whose world and values are rocked when she falls hard for a punk rocker from Hollywood (Josh Whitehouse).
The ensemble film also stars Mae Whitman, Logan Paul, Chloe Bennet, Ashleigh Murray, Jessie Ennis. Matt Smith and Steven J. Wolfe are producing from a script by Amy Talkington and a story by Andrew Lane and Wayne Crawford. It is not yet dated for release and was actually taken off the schedule this year while they figure it out. It was originally supposed to drop on June 29.
In development (both on the fast track):
Ry Russo-Young was also attached by MGM to The Sun Is Also A Star as a co-production with Warner Bros. The Sun Is Also A Star will star Yara Shahidi and is being adapted for the screen by Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip) from Nicola Yoon’s best-selling YA novel with the same name. (Yoon also wrote the aforementioned Everything, Everything). Alloy Entertainment’s Les Morgenstein and Elysa Koplovitz Dutton will produce the story about two teenagers who fall in love on the same day as the girl fights against her family’s deportation.
This one is expected to go before the cameras this year and has a release date of May 17, 2019.
One note, in partnership with the same studio (WBros.), MGM also had hired Thea Sharrock for Me Before You which bowed in 2016 and was a mega hit, grossing $208.3M worldwide a $20M or so production budget.
Madonna was recently hired as a director on Taking Flight. The film is based on Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince’s Random House Children’s memoir Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina, which will be based on an adapted screenplay by Camilla Blackett (Fresh Off the Boat, New Girl). The true story is about Michaela as an orphan in war-torn Sierra Leone who perserved and rose to become a world-renowned ballerina.
The producers are, once again, Alloy Entertainment’s Leslie Morgenstein and Elysa Koplovitz Dutton with Ben Pugh and Guy Oseary. This one is on the fast track to get into production this year.
In both cases with the Alloy projects, we’re told that MGM worked in concert with them to attach the female directors.