EXCLUSIVE: The Time’s Up movement and organization has been steadily progressing over the past 60 days, using the power of Hollywood to help women across all industries so they don’t have to struggle to have a voice to end sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace. The problem is pervasive across all industries, including entertainment. So, Deadline has decided to examine this industry, one by one: Just how many women are getting their chances behind the camera at the major studios?
The first studio we are looking at is Disney. It may be the House that the Mouse (Mickey) built, but Minnie is now building a strong presence in Burbank. The studio currently has a number of women directors on some of their biggest movies at the moment.
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They have six projects in various stages of development or in the can where females are helming and, with Marvel, are working on the first female superhero movie. Out of 10 movies being released in 2018, the studio originally had two female-helmed movies slated until Mulan moved off the schedule to 2020 so now it has only one with A Wrinkle in Time.
Here is what this studio has on its slate at the moment.
A Wrinkle in Time will be coming out next week from director Ava DuVernay, one of the strongest voices in the Time’s Up movement to initiate change in this country. The film, which will be released next weekend, is significant for a number of reasons breaking down barriers for diversity and women. It features the Storm Reid in the lead role with Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling as significant players. Chris Pine, Levi Miller and the very young Deric McCabe are also co-stars, but it gives a role model to young African American girls across this country — something that has been sorely lacking from the the big screen in the past. It was produced by Jim Whitaker and Catherine Hand. Jennifer Lee (see Frozen 2 below) and Jeff Stockwell adapted from the Madeleine L’Engle children’s book.
Shooting right now is Captain Marvel which is being co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck in what is the first female-led superhero project under the Marvel/Disney branded universe. Although story details are not being shared, we do know that it will center on Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Danvers is an Air Force pilot who was the human companion to the original Captain Marvel. Gemma Chan just joining the cast of Jude Law, Samuel L Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn in a story that will take place in the 1990s. Captain Marvel will be released March 8, 2019. It is being produced by Marvel’s Kevin Feige and co-produced by Lars P. Winther.
Julia Hart just sealed a deal to helm a feature film version of Stargirl, the young adult novel Stargirl from author Jerry Spinelli which flew off shelves when President Obama bought the book from a Washington D.C. bookstore for his girls in 2015. Stargirl will become one of the first — if not the first — original film for Disney’s new streaming platform. It is also being adapted and produced by a woman. The book is in the late stages of development and being adapted by Kristin Hahn to shoot in the fall. It is being produced by The Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Lee Stollman with Hahn and her production company Hahnscape.
Casting right now is The One and Only Ivan which will be directed by Me Before You helmer Thea Sherrock adapted by Mike White (Beatriz at Dinner) from the book by Katherine Applegate. The children’s story is being produced by Angelina Jolie and Brigham Taylor. The late Allison Shearmur was also working on this project before her death earlier this year. The story is about a silverback gorilla (Ivan) who lives in a shopping center in a cage with an old elephant and a stray dog. When a baby elephant arrives, Ivan remembers what life was like when he was free and devises and escape plan to protect the baby from a life of abuse.
It was just pushed to a March 27, 2020 release, but Niki Caro (Whale Rider, The Zookeeper’s Wife) is currently casting the live-action 3D version of the Disney film Mulan. This film is building upon a tried and true strategy of taking already branded and beloved animated film and giving them new life for the big screen. This one also has a female protagonist, not unlike Disney’s previous box office hits Cinderella and Maleficent. Yifei Liu has been set to star. The project actually came in as a spec written by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin and then Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Jurassic World, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, and the upcoming Avatar sequel) came aboard. The film is being produced by Jason Reed, Chris Bender and Jake Weiner.
That brings us to Jennifer Lee who, with the animated blockbuster Frozen in 2013, was the first female director of a feature film that earned more than $1 billion in gross box office revenue and the first female director of a Disney Animation Studios’ film. She co-directed Frozen with Chris Buck. It also won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. She is now hard at work with Buck in the development of the sequel to the film that also inspired a Broadway production. Frozen 2 will be ready for release during the Thanksgiving holiday next year (Nov. 27)
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