Ava DuVernay’s fantasy epic made $33 million over the weekend, and while that’s not Marvel superhero-levels of money, it’s not the end of her highly anticipated movie.
If you read some tweets and write-ups about how the movie fared this weekend at the box office, it sounds like the film opened to completely empty movie houses across the country.
It’s clear that “A Wrinkle in Time” is more than just a standard literary adaptation. It’s a chance for a black woman director to shatter records and use a sizable budget to create a world few directors could ever afford to produce.
So far, DuVernay is the first black woman director to work with a $100 million dollar budget, and as CNN and others have pointed out, she and “Black Panther” director, Ryan Coogler, are the first two black directors to hold the top two spots at the box office at the same time.
Now, the trick is for DuVernay to stay on the chart. Not just to prove her detractors wrong but to throw off the pressure to produce a flawless movie every time. Even established masters of the form don’t have a spotless record, yet there’s somehow an expectation for black directors like Ava DuVernay, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Spike Lee or F. Gary Gray to amaze audiences every time.
They aren’t afforded the opportunity to stumble. They have to prove their talent with every new release.
This toxic line of thinking has the potential to hurt not just DuVernay’s career, but that of any other woman or woman of color who has the chance to helm a big budget movie.
Expecting a great movie every time is unsustainable when most women directors won’t even get a second chance. White male directors can fail – and actually fail, not $33 million opening weekend “fail” – and continue to get work.
Yet, women – and especially women of color – continue to be viewed as risky hires.